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December 6, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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Baruch 5:1-9; Canticle 16; Phil 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6                   The Rev. Linda Spiers
The Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2015                   Trinity Episcopal Church

            This week we have another tragedy of a mass shooting with 14 killed and 21 injured. In the 336 days of 2015 there have already been 355 mass shootings. That is a staggering statistic and is almost paralyzing! A young couple left their child to go about this tragic and unimaginable work of taking life. What is it that twists and turns the heart to do such things? The San Bernardino tragedy appears to be pointing toward terrorism, and our prayers reach out to all who are affected. Our prayers pave the way for action! In the midst of this tragedy around us we find good news and hope for a world not riddled with this kind of helplessness and pain—there is hope in the prophet who cries out in the wilderness:
“Every valley shall be filled,
  and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
  and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  (Luke 3:5-6).
I went to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center on Friday to join them in prayer and to have lunch. Bishop Laura and Rebecca Hatch, the new priest from St. Alban’s, and I joined Noora Brown. During the announcements at the end of their prayer time members were encouraged to stand with their heads held high, to be proud of who they are. They were also reassured that they were safe at the Center. There is conversation currently underway with the Avon Police Department for increased security. The community was reminded that all activities were continuing as planned—their monthly potluck dinner for Saturday, Sunday school for the youth. All would happen and continue on and they were safe there. After lunch 6 of us just sat and talked about families and teenagers and young people in college and a daughter in medical school—ordinary things that we share in life. Three Muslim women and three Christian women having a conversation about ordinary things that we all share in life—it was a delightful time.
A Hartford Seminary chaplaincy student preached and wove the history of Islam into the current day’s tragic situations. It was not unlike a sermon that might be preached in any house of worship. Lift your heads high and go out and tell your story of peace. Help others to know who you are—a people of peace and not terrorism. Do not be afraid.
Today’s readings bring into our Advent week two the beginning ministry of John the Baptist. Luke places John’s entry in the middle of history—a time when there was tension between the Roman rulers and the Jewish religious leaders. It was a difficult time for the people of Israel. Herod the Great and his sons had been brutal. From the wilderness enters this itinerant preacher named John who proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John tells all that repentance from sins is the first step in preparing for the coming of the Lord. John calls us to repent as we prepare our heart for the coming of Jesus. It’s almost like an interruption in our lives to stop and prepare or repair hearts. Examine yourselves and the world around you.
The words quoted from Isaiah that are in Luke’s passage were originally to the exiles in Babylon—words of promise to a people oppressed. God had not forgotten them. John’s words echo throughout time to our days proclaiming repentance. The Greek for repentance is metanoia, which literally means to change one’s mind, turn around, and reorient oneself.
That’s the work that this ordinary man John the Baptist calls us to be about—to change and turn our hearts to God, to ask for forgiveness, and ready ourselves for the birth of the Christ child. John calls us to turn around—to make crooked paths straight, to smooth rough ways, to fill valleys and flatten mountains with the promise that all shall see the salvation of God. All shall see the salvation of God.
With each of us stepping out with John to turn around and reorient ourselves, we bring hope to our world one person at a time. That is good news for us and for our world. I wonder if it’s not time for us as Christians to also stand up, hold our heads high, and tell our story of peace.

Kathy Beach-Verhey in Feasting on the Word:  Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C, Volume 1 (Lousiville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 48.

November 29, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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November 22, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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November 1, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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October 18, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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October 11, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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October 4, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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February 8, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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February 1, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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January 25, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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January 18, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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January 4, 2015 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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