Isaiah 40: 1-11
MARK 1: 1-8

We have entered the season … it’s a clearly identifiable season just look at any printed calendar … just pick up today’s advertising supplements … there is something in the air.  Well, maybe not in the air but when I picked up my two newspapers off the lawn this morning inside each of them was a paper like this that said IT’S CHRISTMAS <<HOLD UP card from carrier >>… “It’s Christmas.  Here’s hoping you enjoy every merry minute.”

Well, like you … I know that Christmas Day has not yet officially rolled around because there are still presents to be purchased, dozens of cookies to be eaten, worship services to be planned, decorations to be carefully placed around the house, and in many cases trees to be raised and covered with ornaments and lights.  And, I guess according to this photocopied card … supposedly a lot of merry minutes to enjoy that are not available at other times of the year.

But, my friends; ARE YOU calling out to the world you live in … that Jesus Christ is the reason …

Oh wait,  I am sorry but the very limitation that the politically motivated … date centric church goer and non church goer seems to place on the saying JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON bothers me.  It’s just like demanding that Jewish, and Muslim and Hindu store clerks say Merry Christmas when hading our receipts to us after we have made a purchase of gifts for loved ones or household goods in the days leading up to December 25th.  An interesting “confliction” for the insistent Christian who wants to demand that the Hanukkah celebrating young Jewish store clerk say Merry Christmas immediately following the purchase of video games of violence … presents fulfilling personal wishes developed in greed laden dreams and items that do not provide sustenance for the poor, health care for the suffering, or relief for the prisoner or even welcome for the stranger in the land but still they insist say MERRY CHRISTMAS when the items put on the credit card are in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Now, if you were to be driving behind my car any day throughout the year you would see the magnetic attachment to my bumper that reads KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS.  Some may see that as a lesson in spelling because if you take C-H-R-I-S-T out of the word Christmas you would be left with the letters M-A-S, which don’t carry the clear identifying meaning that having Christ attached to M-A-S does.  In fact, most people would struggle to put a definition to the word MAS although those who speak Spanish would define it as the conjunctive word but.  Those who have studied history might know that the MAS was a class of fast torpedo armed vessels used by the Italian Navy in World War 1 and 2; an abbreviation for Motoscafo Armato Silurante. And, of course we all are familiar with MAS meaning a Caribbean carnival while also defining the music played for a carnival or a band playing that style of music at a carnival.

GEESH … it’s obvious why we need to attach the letters C-H-R-I-S-T to M-A-S if we are to understand that we are talking about December 25th although some just add an isolated letter X to get away from that Christ.  But then again, a lot of people who call themselves Christians X out the Christ each day in their lives don’t they; so they can fit in with the world rather than having to live as Christ taught during non-church hours.

Friends, are you calling out to the world that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, rose again, ascended into heaven and is coming back again?  ARE YOU CALLING OUT the GOOD NEWS of the WORD of God?  Are you CALLING out a love for all neighbors no matter who they are  … NEIGHBOR I LOVE YOU!

Isaiah, a Prophet of God has called out … you heard the words this morning, “COMFORT MY PEOPLE says your God. Speak TENDERLY to Jerusalem that her sin has been paid for.”  The God of grace … the God of love … the God of Creation who sent Jesus into this world by having Mary, that famous teenage virgin,  give birth to Him … that God is your God this morning church, right?  I ask in hope … I ask in love … I ask for your sake, the sake of future generations … as we begin our journey of remembrance … our historical walk to again celebrate a birthday … have you bought into the reality of God?  If you have … if you believe … then I can fairly ask, ARE YOU CALLING OUT into the darkness of a world that rewards the wealthy and takes away from the poor … a world celebrating Wild Wild West violence while mocking the peacemakers whom Jesus declared would be declared the sons of God.  There is a message of God clarity that must be delivered … not clouded by personalized needs or selfish expectations … this is the season of ADVENT … today is a day where we break the bread and share the cup that Jesus taught us to do as a reminder to each of us.

You are reminded in Communion aren’t you?  You did confess with me your sinfulness here in God’s church…you do know, don’t you … that just as the Prophet Isaiah stated, YOUR SINS, MY SINS, the SINS of those who never enter this church … have been paid for in full by the one whose birthday celebration is now covered up in tinsel, glitter, food, and greed.  We need the ADVENT SEASON to be a season when people of faith CALL OUT that Jesus is so much more than brightly wrapped presents tied up in strings and bows … that Jesus delivered God’s clear words that the Creator wants us to live differently than the conflicted voices of division and evil in the world want for our time here.  We are to be the messengers who stand up for the poor, the weak, and those who are victims of injustice.

There are Jesus messages and then my friends there are worldly messages.  There are messages of clarity and then there are messages that can confuse.

Are you amongst the voices who bring the good news … “HERE IS YOUR GOD!!!  See the Sovereign Lord comes with power … see His reward is with Him.  He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”

The WORD of GOD for the people of God … the God … the only One … the One who created the vast universe desperately wants to be in a loving relationship with each human being but rather than making us have no choice we can reject this incredible true love or we can embrace it fully recognizing how Awesome God is …

But, students of the English language will tell you that our language can get pretty confusing.  I have already told you about a simple three letter word M-A-S that most of you thought needed another S to have meaning but even if you added an S to M-A-S what would you really have … A Roman Catholic or Episcopal worship service?  Or would you consider a MASS to be a noun meaning a large body of matter with no definite shape?  Or would it be the majority of … as in the great mass of the population had interest in the project.  Perhaps the verb comes to mind meaning to assemble together or the adjective relating to or done by large numbers of people.

So in my phrasing of the question ARE YOU CALLING OUT … there are two possibilities for those who attend churches throughout the world.  During my working years that question referred to someone making an excuse and calling out from work or undertaking a task that they were responsible for such as Are you calling out from work tomorrow after tonight’s Eagles Seahawks game?  I am sure many people across the Delaware Valley and South Jersey will be calling out tomorrow because of the lateness of the game’s finish.

But, my question to you this morning … well actually it can be two questions … Are you calling out from your responsibilities as a Christian to be God’s Light in this world … to engage in actions or work that demonstrate your faith … are you calling out to get away from what God expects so you can fit in with the world this Advent season or are you willing to consider as we step towards another celebration of Jesus birth that you should be calling out to those you know … to families with children … to co-workers and friends who are lost … the message of Jesus.  ARE YOU CALLING OUT FOR GOD through your words and your life actions … through what you support and what you condemn?

It’s the message of the STAR CHILD EARTH CHILD go between of God … let this year be the year when Christmas comes for everyone in your circle of friends and family and even those you just know … that Jesus is the hope for peace child, God’s stupendous sign … the One who gives joy a possibility for life.  The One whose birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and future return are the GOOD NEWS of GOD … our sins have been paid for … we come to the Table of the Lord to remember that today … God’s message on living life is available with clarity.  God loves … God forgives when we ask for forgiveness … Jesus saves!  The Holy Spirit directs!

Hear the prophet and CALL OUT … “You who bring the Good News … lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid … HERE IS YOUR GOD … He gathers his clock like a shepherd.  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart.”

God is worth it … can I hear an AMEN … Jesus is worth it … the season of Jesus is not limited to a shopping season determined by merchants and song writers … the season of Jesus is the season of our lives and that season is one others should be blessed to call their own as well so ARE YOU CALLING OUT the GOOD NEWS or have you called out and left the message of the season to others to share?  AMEN

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