Scripture Text: 1 Peter 2:9-10
9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
First Peter reflects the rapid expansion of the early church. This fledgling church was struggling with community, with their mission, and the fact that they were continually faced with various types of suffering. So, this letter may be one of encouragement— “hang on, you can do this”. It’s obviously been read by struggling communities ever since that time of its writing, including us. It is a call to move to something different.
The community is reminded here that they are called to a broader mission. They just have to pay attention to what it is. The language of the priesthood may be a little off-putting. But I’m reminded what Barbara Brown Taylor says in her book, The Preaching Life: “…when God calls, people respond in a variety of ways. Some pursue ordination and others put pillows over their heads, but the vast majority seek to answer God by changing how they live their more or less ordinary lives…” (p. 26) In other words, we are all called. But we have to change. The point is that it’s how we respond to God’s call, it’s how we are called out of darkness into the marvelous light.
OK, here’s where we need to stop. We have talked about this journey of Advent, this move from darkness to light. But this is tempting to think of those conditions as places—the place of darkness, the place of light. We fall into imagining that place called Heaven with the golden streets. The problem is that that is not found in Scripture–ANYWHERE. That notion of the “place” of darkness, the “place” of light, the “place” of earth, and the “place” of heaven is not real. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s a place. I think this move is from one way of being to another, one way of seeing to another. I mean, otherwise, how do we reconcile in our minds that God is here. Is God somehow commuting? I don’t think that.
This Advent journey, this move from darkness to light, does not transport us to a new place. Instead, we are transformed where we are. We are transformed into the Light to the World—THIS world, THIS place. I think that’s why God came, Emmanuel, God With Us, to show us that we are called HERE. We are called NOW. Let this Advent journey be a movement to a new Way—that Way that moves from darkness to marvelous Light, this marvelous place of Light.
Faith can be described only as a movement of flight, flight away from myself and toward the great possibilities of God. (Helmut Thielicke)
Grace and Peace,