Monday, November 21, 2016

Looking Forward to November 27, 2016 -- Daniel in the Lion's Den, Advent 1

The Scripture readings for this week are:
  • Daniel 6:6-27
  • Joel 2:28-29
The Sermon title is God Saves

Early Thoughts: Psalm 121 laments "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."

It then answers: "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

This week we have a story of jealousy/insecurity. And a story of faithfulness in the face of threat. And a story of God's salvific power. Oh, and a few lions thrown in for good measure.

Living in exile, Daniel has become influential and powerful. And as often happens this makes some of his colleagues jealous and nervous. So they decide to get rid of him.

It is hardly unheard of for a power bloc in a society to manipulate the system and get a law passed that is targeted at a specific individual or group.  In fact it is rather common. Then the person/group have to decide it they will play it safe or if they will continue to be true to who they are, knowing that this puts them in jeopardy.

Daniel chooses the latter. And Darius is caught in the trap. (The fact that Darius is so easily played suggests his strength is not in leadership)

But God intervenes.  And Daniel is not broken and consumed by the lions.  Then Darius has an attack of leadership and destroys those counselors who played him so well (which may be very politically expedient since it also ensures they will not plot against Darius himself in the future) before praising the God Daniel follows.

It is one of those stories many of us heard as children (though those versions might have omitted the wholesale slaughter of verses 23 and 24). But why do we continue to tell it? Specifically this week, as we head in to the season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. What does this passage tell us in 2016?

WE live in a world where jealousy and nervousness and insecurity and fear still drive and shape major policy decisions. We live in a world where it sometimes seems that playing it safe is wiser than wholeheartedly being who God has formed us to be. We live in a world where lion's dens come in a variety of shapes and forms.

We also live in a world of hope.

We live in a world where God is at work, sending visions and dreams. WE live in a world where the Kingdom is growing (slowly, sometimes with a setback or two) to full flower. We live in a world where we trust that, in the words of Dame Julian of Norwich, "all will be well".

One etymology of the name Jeshua (Jesus) is God Saves. We await the birth of God Saves.  That is where our hope lies. Even in the face of lions we await the birth of God Saves. Even in the face of threats that would push us to be less than who God has created us to be we have hope and confidence. We can share the visions and the dreams God has sent us because we have hope, because we know that God is in control (sometimes despite the seeming lack of evidence), because God is active in teh world.

Thanks be to God

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