Second Sunday of Advent

October 29, 2019 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

December 8: Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-12

Have you ever considered that stewardship of your life, your time, your talent, your treasure, your love, your hope, and your prayers all matter? Whatever you give of yourself makes a whole lot of difference.

Do you believe that? Consider when the Lord gives, when the Lord exercises stewardship, giving of Himself. And now consider when you partner with the Lord, and the Lord partners with you, in what you give and in what the Lord gives. You get it? When the Lord provides – watch out, world! The Lord is about to make a difference.

The texts for this Second Sunday of Advent have that quality of dynamic impact. Isaiah 11 promised an ancestor of Jesse to come, presaging the Davidic monarchy which culminates in the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. The covenant with David, marking the Lord’s eternal covenantal promise to rule and reign in righteousness and love, results in pervasive peace and reconciliation among all parts of creation, astonishingly bringing erstwhile enemies like a wolf and lamb to dwell together.

Matthew 3 narrated the advent of John the Baptist’s ministry as he was the advance team for Jesus’ own ministry. John’s clearinghouse ministry was impactful in his call for repentance, baptizing with water, even as he called everyone including many Pharisees and Sadducees to reconsider their hearts and assumptions as the kingdom of heaven was drawing near. Both Isaiah 11 and Matthew 3 share the message of preparing readers and hearers to be doers: do the will of God by seeing the imminent immanence (near presence) of the Lord and living accordingly.

Image of 2 candles lit with the quote "When the Lord provides - watch out, world! The Lord is about to make a difference."

To account for the Lord’s imminent immanence is to see that our lives are connected to what God is doing in all of creation and to which we are a part: namely the work of reconciliation to one another and to the Lord. To repent is to turn away from our own self-serving, destructive agendas that contradict God’s will, and instead to turn towards the imminent immanence of the Lord, who is continually preparing and paving the way for us to live fully in God’s intention.

For many churches and ministries, with the calendar year nearing the end, this is stewardship season, budget planning, and considerations for year-end, tax-deductible gifts. It’s also a traditional time where giving comes in the form of loving service, spreading holiday cheer.

Be intentional about your stewardship this season. It’s holy stewardship because everything you do and everything you give are all part of the imminent immanence of the Lord’s rule and reign right here, right now. But don’t just give and do things to be busy for the sake of giving and for the sake of doing. Be intentional, with an eye and heart for impactful giving and impactful doing that promotes God’s transformative justice in the world and in communities around you: where peace prevails over war, where the hungry are fed and poverty is eradicated, where systemic racism is dismantled, where the oppressed are freed, the sick are healed, the naked are clothed, the homeless are housed, the asylum-seeker is given refuge, where the silenced minority is given voice and power. The Lord is making a difference with you, with your stewardship, for the sake of the world’s healing.