Philippians 1: 3-11; 1 Cor 13: 4-7
Today’s passage is Paul’s love and didactic letter to his friends in the church in Philippi. Like a love letter, in today’s passage, we may sense that Paul cares for his people dearly and gives a lesson and celebrates them with their best dreams and visions of their future well-being, and encourages them about the ongoing faith journey of their lives. If Paul had known about us, the FCCSville, he would no doubt have written us such a letter.
We read today’s passage in Advent because Christmas is not just about the birth of the baby. Christmas should be the full and visible proclamation of the source of hope, peace, joy, and love
—so that we can see, receive, and celebrate God’s fullness in our lives. We mark Christmas as the liturgical recognition that Christ’s coming is a gift for the day; it does not necessarily mean that it only happens once a year—just like the way that we often forget that every Sunday should be like Easter Sunday, not an annual event.
Yes, Christmas is not an annual event, but it is the day we intend to proclaim—who we are as God’s people and whom we trust, God of the creator, who is in charge of the beginning and the end, alpha and omega.
Between alpha and omega, the first and the last in God’s divine drama, who are we? We are players and actors and actresses—those who know that our life is not a fairy tale told by someone, that our life is not a rat race, that our life is not made of an endless series of accidents so that we are people who imagine and see and receive our lives differently by waiting and watching for a larger purpose in our lives from God.
Yes, Advent is a time for thinking again---what would happen if God’s love overflows more and more by being more generous and more forgiving, which creates a transformative love that reaches beyond self and can make a difference. Yes, in this love letter, Paul expects his beloved church and us that we should live a different life—making God’s love overflow more and more--more generous and more forgiving and more transforming, and holding knowledge and insight of God’s love, just like the way the book of Corinthian 13 describes. Then, we are able to be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, which is on Christmas day, just like a believer who surely knows the happy ending of God’s divine drama given for us—so we can be still and be calm; be quiet and be grateful; be alert and uncompromised with the loud greed of the world.
This Advent practice, perhaps, is about ceding ourselves over to God in gladness and joy, to refer our life back to God who has given it to us. For this task, I’d like to conclude today’s sermon
in the book of 1 Corinthian, chapter 13, as I put “we” instead of “love” in verses 4-7, “We are patient, we are kind, we are not jealous, we do not brag, we are not arrogant, we are not rude,
we do not seek our own advantage, we are not irritable, we do not keep a record of complaints,
we are not happy with injustice, but we are happy with the truth. We put up with all things, trust in all things, hope for all things, endure all things until the days of Christ.”
Thanks be to God.