Advent 2: Thresholds

Sermon for Advent 2 by Kay Stoltz

Isaiah says: “See, I am sending a messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” And, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” And so the world stands at the threshold of a new life as Isaiah’s prophecy comes to pass.

That messenger is John, who guides through that threshold.

John is an unlikely hero figure; clothed in camel hair, subsisting on honey and locusts. However, his mission is clear, make way for the Savior, Jesus Christ. He prepares himself in the desert, in the solitude of that lonely wilderness. When he emerges, he is does not passively wait, for there is work to be done to prepare the way of the Lord. He preaches the word of God, baptizes in the river. He tells his followers of the Christ to come, of his role as a forerunner. “I baptize with water, he is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

Thus, John is the threshold between what is and what is to come, Christ. That space between what the world knows in their daily lives and the expectation of the Savior.
In the Advent Door, Jan Richardson says, “Advent is a threshold season, a liminal place in the calendar, an in-between time of preparation and expectation. Thresholds offer a heady mix of possibility and peril.”

Certainly St. Catherine’s is standing on a threshold, a liminal space dividing what we knew and what is to come. The possibilities, the perils are there as we make decisions about a path best for us. We pray for guidance, and try to negotiate the differing ideas, wants, wishes of our Church family.

And how do we personally travel the threshold? How do we spend this Advent? In preparation of the Coming of Christ? We are busy with responsibilities, commitments, social lives. Busy-ness, Busy-ness. Do we need to enter a desert, challenge our lives, in order to make way for God? What do we need to shed? How do we prioritize?
We have choices and tests; of our own making or what life has thrown us. Do we go forward with God across that space? We face risk and doubt, that awful feeling of not knowing. Following God does not always mean traveling with certainty. Is God directing me that way? Or another? Do I play it safe in my accustomed routines?

We can seek deeper knowledge. What is God directing me to do? What insights and challenges is he offering? Then find the strength to follow the path he leads.
“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear; hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.” St. Jude 20-23

May we traverse this threshold of Advent in prayerful reflection for ourselves and St. Catherine’s. Amen