- Malachi 3:1-4
- Luke 1:68-79 (VU p.900)
- Luke 3:7-18
The Sermon Title is Ready to be Refined?
Early Thoughts: Having the dross burnt away, or the impurities scrubbed out, or being threshed to separate the grain from the chaff. Not the most helpful ways to approach God are they?
Malachi and John, like most Biblical Prophets. are speaking to people who have lost their way. Malachi and John are trying to get people to repent, to change direction. Malachi and John know that in order for people to get back on the right path some thing has to be changed, some part of their being (or at least their behaviour) needs to be excised/removed, the people God wants them to be needs to be removed from the excess so that their pure selves can shine through.
If we take Advent and Christmas seriously, if we seriously ask ourselves what it means for God to break into the world and call us to a new way of living then we have to ask ourselves where we might need to be refined/threshed/washed. But there is hope in that question--far more hope than we might get from Malachi and John.
Malachi and John had a vision of how this purification thing was going to work. They saw God coming in anger and justice to physically (and somewhat forcefully or violently) remove that which was impure. But lo and behold God had a different plan.
Instead of a crucible burning away our impurities, or being scrubbed with fuller's soap (which would also burn the skin by the way), or being beaten with a flail, God calls us to a new life through love and grace and mercy. In Jesus God calls us to embrace who we are meant to be and cast away that which does not fit. God does not seek to strip it away by force.
Not that this is any easier mind you. At times it still feels like we are in the refiner's crucible and the heat is getting uncomfortable. But still the intention makes all the difference. By choosing to act through love God says that we will be accepted and loved despite (and including) our impurities. God does call us to repent, to change direction. God will help us make that turn. It will not be easy or comfortable. But to be who we were created to be we have to do it. So are we willing? As we prepare to make space in our lives for God to be born anew are we ready to be refined?