Sunday, December 2, 2012 - Advent 1
Think back to September 11, 2001, and the previous decade. In this 10-20 year period, the perceived threat to American safety has been terrorist attacks. When I was growing up, we worried about threats from Communist Soviet Union. But, if you were born after 1980, you really have never known life under the specter of communism. You have lived in a time where the American fear is fear of an attack by a radical terrorist group – usually a Muslim group. This fear has made it hard for Christ-followers to love our Muslim neighbors. Jesus said the greatest command is to love God and neighbor. We have trouble loving our Muslim neighbors; we struggle in even knowing how to relate to them at all.
Watch TV or listen to the radio or go on the internet or go to your mailbox. Or read a magazine. All year we are bombarded with advertisements for cars, cell phones, clothing, and numerous other products. That’s yearlong. The advertising explodes around Christmas. It seems the American way is to buy stuff, and often on credit. We have trouble with delayed gratification. We don’t know how to be happy without stuff. We struggle with saving our money and thinking of our money as a tool for advancing God’s kingdom. Ironically, after the purchases, many of which are very expensive, we forget about what we bought. The importance of the item was much higher when we did not have it. Now, in our possession, it certainly does not seem to be worth as much as we spent.
Recall this past election. We have a two-party system that demands that we support one candidate blindly and demonize the other. Americans seem incapable of saying, “I agree with Bill Republican on these issues and disagree on these others. I am with Sandy Democrat here, but not on this other issue.” Our two-party system has demolished critical thinking when it comes to voting. We cannot conceive of a third party gaining traction. We refuse to listen to one another in political conversations. We struggle with creativity. We do not make space for new ideas in the political realm.
I love our country, but we have some problems. Of these, I have identified three that I think are uniquely American and in the readings from the prophets for this season of Advent, we have a word from God that speaks directly to these problems and to us as God’s people.