December 13, 2022

From the Rector…

I screwed up. We should have lit the pink candle last Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. I know these things and yet, I get distracted by all that is going on and don’t do my homework. We will light the pink candle this week and eat pink ice cream after church and celebrate Mary. But the problem is that the pink candle is not about Mary—it’s about John the Baptist and his call to us to rejoice!! 

The Third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice. Even though John the Baptist likes to throw insults around like “brood of vipers” and scare us all to death with his judgmental tone, his main message and purpose is to point us to the Messiah—the Christ. He does a good job of that—and in the doing, he reminds us of the Good News, or the “happy ending” Drew talked about in his sermon last week.  John calls us to “Rejoice!” even as he rots in a prison cell, questioning if Jesus is indeed the one to come.

We all screw up. Sometimes it is in a public way—like lighting the wrong candle. Sometimes it is in a more private way—like when we do or say something to harm a relationship. Sometimes we assume another has screwed up and allow that to affect how we think of them, until we discover that maybe they didn’t screw up after all. And sometimes, we simply judge one another based off our screw-ups instead of loving one another because of them.

John gets arrested and thrown into prison where he will eventually be beheaded. Jesus is arrested, tried, and hung on a cross. To all the world—at least in the first century—they would easily have looked like people who screwed up. It would not be until centuries later that their actions would be redefined as salvific and the real screw ups—Herod and Pontius Pilate amongst others—would be outed. The amazing thing is that as much as God loved John the Baptist and Jesus and all the disciples of the early church, he loved Pontius Pilate and Herod too. God loves the screw ups, even when their mistakes are so terrible that we think there is no path for their redemption.

The same is true for us. Even when we deny God like Peter, or hurt our fellow human like Paul, or simply make a mistake—God still loves us. Our job is to find a way to love one another and in so doing we demonstrate our great love for God. 

It isn’t that hard to love someone even if they make a mistake, unless it is a mistake that offended you—then it is an uphill battle to reconcile that relationship. Many of us don’t even try to make the climb, or if we do, we are quick to give it up.  But it is in those times that we have the greatest opportunity of growing in love. In part, because we learn that the opposite of love is not hate or even indifference as we have been told. It is judgment. When we judge others, we judge and condemn ourselves because we withhold love—we spread the exact opposite of the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim.

I apologize for my screw up and hope I didn’t cause you such angst as to why we weren’t lighting the correct candles. I don’t like to be wrong—but even more, I don’t like to lead others astray. The great thing is that whether or not you lit a pink candle last Sunday on your own Advent wreath, at least you lit a candle and marked the time that we move closer to the one who allows for our mistakes and errors of our ways and yet, does not leave us stranded like lost sheep. And that is something to rejoice about.

Light and Life,