We began our service with a prayer containing these words: “O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory. Grant to us that we may be changed into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory. Are we serious about this prayer? Do we really want to be changed into the likeness of Christ?
Joy to the world. The angel says to the shepherds, “Behold I bring you good news of great joy.” The prophet Isaiah says, “You, God, have multiplied the nations, you have increased its joy.” Psalm 96 says, “Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad…then all the trees of the wood will shout for joy before the Lord when he comes.” Joy. Joy. Joy. If there is one word you remember from this Christmas sermon tonight, let it be this: joy.
Today, on this second Sunday in our season of Advent, we are reminded again that this is a season of waiting. Waiting for Christ to return, waiting for our completion and fulfillment, waiting for a new creation. The invitation is to wait in peace and to wait with hope. The message of Advent is true all the year round. We are a waiting people, and this is the place where we learn the art of waiting. We do not usually like waiting. We try to avoid having to wait. Or if we have to wait, we find something else to do while we wait passively for something to happen. The waiting we do here, though, is Advent waiting, active waiting. Advent waiting is joyful anticipation, paying close attention because there is something new breaking out right now.
The people whom God has chosen so often miss the point, over and over again–when we reject the one who has come to save us, when we fail to recognize the Savior standing right in front of us. But it’s not too late! The promise of God–the promise of life and love that is stronger than death is always there. It’s not too late.
Welcome happy morning and happy Easter! It is a joy to be together again on this Easter morning to hear the good news of the Gospel that Christ is risen and to hear it this morning in the version from the evangelist known as “Matthew.” Mathew’s version, unlike any of the other 3 Gospels in the Bible mentions an earthquake. The earth shakes as the angel of the Lord comes and rolls away the stone. The tomb is opened. Jesus is gone. Christ is risen. And that news has been shaking and quaking us ever since.