Second Sunday of Advent – PEACE

Melt van der Spuy, Dec 04, 2022, 2:00 PM
Melt van der Spuy Prairies and North Regional Leader
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The theme for the second week of Advent is Peace. Peacemaking and Justice is an enormous—and often ignored—theme in Scripture. In Exodus 3 and 4, where God meets Moses in the burning bush, God presents a call of peace-brokering and justice to Moses:

The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians...But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you."

Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you'?" Then the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. The Lord said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground, and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So, Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. "This," said the Lord, "is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you." Then the Lord said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So, Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So, Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

- Exodus 3:7 - 8, 11-12, 4:1-7

The liberated preacher sits at the junction between preaching and peacemaking. The liberated prophet has a heightened sense of justice—it comes with the territory. The people of God in Scripture are so seldom—almost never, really—the privileged, the well-fed and the well-satisfied. They are usually the exiled, the marginalized, the disempowered, the helpless, the hapless, the hopeless, the poor, the leprous and the disenfranchised. One of the most consistent and most ignored signs of the Kingdom, both Old and New Testament is...the suffering of God's people.

In our Exodus text, where God presents this peacemaking call to Moses, Moses must wrestle through the need to speak to two audiences: pharaoh and the people (Israel) who are in desperate need of deliverance from oppression—the people in need of deliverance, justice and brokered peace.

If you are going to preach or live liberation, peace, and justice, you will always have two audiences: the oppressive and powerful (here Pharaoh) and the oppressed or those in pain (here Israel). Power versus pain.

And Moses is, of course, somewhat related to both these groups. He is a Jew, but he grew up in Pharaoh's palace. As those who are liberated and bring peace, we must stand always in the juncture between power and pain. We gravitate toward those in pain.

If we are to bring liberation in one form or another, we will always have two audiences in mind. Sometimes our call might be as basic as standing between the marginalized group (whomever they might be) and the would-be "stone throwers." That is where Jesus finds himself in the pericope adulterae with the woman caught in adultery in John 7. In this place our opinions are irrelevant. We occupy the space between the oppressor and the oppressed regardless of our opinions.

And Moses starts this journey like most of us who have submitted to Jesus. "Who am, I LORD?" Essentially, he wants to give God "ten reasons why I am not qualified to lead an enslaved people to the promised land and why I am unqualified to confront power when and as I need to in that process." I have a stutter...I have a limp...I have an impediment. Welcome to the Kingdom and thank you for recognizing your limp.

Do not trust anyone, ever, who appears to walk without a limp...

Some points from our text for all who would be shapers and liberators of people's reality:

1) Preaching and prophesying peace, liberation, freedom, and healing from oppression demands that I have my own story of peace, liberation, healing, and freedom. That is the empowering we need in our own story and in our own moral imaginations. The snake on the ground for Moses is a representation of the serpent in the garden. The snake hisses that Moses is presumptuous and unqualified. He is a murderer, a spoiled kid raised in Pharaoh's palace, a fugitive with a speech impediment. Moses has an identity crisis and so do we. The only responses to our limps, our snakes on the ground, are humility and strength. They are not contradictory.

2) The point above relates to preaching or prophesying peace. But we also need that peace for ourselves, not just as it relates to proclamation. We need to possess it; that is, to bring peace we need to liberate ourselves from anything that does not bring us peace. We ourselves need to be at peace if we are to live by peace and to be able to broker peace. Put your hand under your shirt, or into your robe, or into your chest; pull it out and you will see it is leprous. Now put it back and invoke his name. Pull it out again and you will see that it is clean. You are healed, your soul (self) is liberated and at peace. Your hand looked leprous because your soul was busted. When your story and your self is in alignment, your hand will be clean. Your proclamation and your soul care (cura animarum) must align. Proclamation costs.

Proclamation in divisive times such as our own, costs even more. It tears at the fabric of your soul. Our public lives and private spaces must align. Proclaiming liberation from whatever holds people captive, proclaiming peace, is not sustainable from a damaged soul.

3) Proclaiming freedom and peace demands a liberated voice. Moses was slow of speech and tongue. Find your voice.

In these times, liberate your proclamation by liberating your soul and liberating your voice. Only then will we be able to liberate others.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, liberate us from everything that keeps us from loving and receiving love. O God, by adopting the grace of Jesus, we became your children. Liberate our souls from darkness and evil. Let us live in the glory and the splendour of the freedom, peace and liberation you have won us. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Amen