ADVENT ANSWERS THE QUESTION, WHY?
Had to scrap the sermon I prepared for Advent 3. I’m just so aware that we are all in grief and mourning the loss of all the young life in the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. We’ll be offering our Eucharist today with special intention for the souls of the victims and for comfort and healing for the families…and for all of us. It’s the most important thing we will do today.
So many people are asking “Why did this happen?” And “what can we do to make sure it never happens again?” Advent gives a stark answer to the “Why” question. This is a very serious season, Advent. It’s not just a four-Sunday countdown to Christmas. Advent reminds us that this world is broken. The kingdom of God has not yet come in its fullness. Violence and evil and sickness and danger are realities we have to face every day in some way. And it does no good to deny that.
Christians believe that Jesus was born into this world to inaugurate the kingdom of God, to usher in a time when tragedies and violence like this will be no more. But we’re not there yet. And until that kingdom comes in its fullness, Advent teaches us that we must wait for it – with patience and hope and expectation.
But that’s not all we can do. We can also cooperate with God in the building of that kingdom. We can work to make this world a better place, a place which There will be many discussions, and there already are in the media and in coffee shops, about what we can do to keep this kind of thing from every happening again – from gun violence to mental health services to school safety. And Christians should be part of those conversations. We have a contribution to make there.
But the most important thing we can do, dear friends, is to recommit ourselves to the mission of the Church, to what we’re doing here today. Our diocese has a simple mission statement: we are “to grow the Church…form the faithful…and change the world.” A pretty lofty goal, but it begins simply. “Growing the church” means more than just getting more people in the pews. It means reaching out with the message of God’s love.
What if Adam Lanza had been part of a community like this one, what if his mother had? Could it have made a difference? We don’t know, but it might have. We need to reach all people with the Gospel.
“Form the faithful.” We are to teach our children, and ourselves, that violence is never the answer to any problem! And that’s God’s will is for peace and forgiveness and healing for all. That’s “forming the faithful.”
And it’s only when we have done those things – growing the Church and forming the faithful – that we will be able to make our contribution to “changing the world.”
Let’s rededicate ourselves to that on this sad Sunday, my friends. It’s the least we can do…and the most.