“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”… these words from Isaiah never fail to take my breath away. It is for me, a perfect vision of Advent… O that you would tear open the heavens and come down… Advent, for me, is the great season of hope where we wait for God to tear open the heavens and come down. And one of the reasons I love this season so much is because of that mysterious place we live in these coming weeks; a place of already and not yet. We prepare for the second coming of Jesus, whose first coming we celebrate in a few weeks. We already know that God has torn open the heavens and come down once; and in that coming, the kingdom of God here on earth was begun; and now we await his second coming where all will be judged and be made new. The dead shall rise, and we shall all be joined with him whose very existence is the love of God, embodied. But, we must prepare, we must get ready. How do we get ready? Well, for one thing, we have to ignore as best we can the frenetic capitalist craziness that goes on this time of year. Not that we can’t do things for our families and friends, and not that giving presents is a bad thing. But as we engage in the activities of the season, doing so with a heart that knows it is Jesus who is at that the center of our celebrations, will help us to be present to others in ways that we might not ordinarily be. This season of preparation for us means that we worship and pray more; we confess the sin that might be in the way of our relationship to Jesus; we give more to those who are in need, understanding that it is in those faces that we find Jesus; we hope as those who believe that Jesus is coming in all love and mercy; we love all people, knowing that all people are created in the image of God. The world right now would pull us away from these tasks, but these tasks, beloved, are the work that we are given to do. We light these candles to show that we believe that Jesus, the true light of the world is coming; that evil shall be forever banished, because we are a people of hope, Easter people who know that no matter what goes on around us, the love of God will always win. Always. Find ways to worship and pray fully; be present to God so that God might be present to you. Live in the hope that God has torn open the heavens to come down because that is what God’s love does, and will do again. Give to those in need, whether it is your time, your presence or your treasure. Repent of those things that separate you from God. Be present to all those whom you may meet. Jesus tears open the heavens and comes down… to come into the human situation in all that it means… he comes because God so loved the world; he comes because it is only in relationship that hope can truly be born… he comes to tear down the barriers that we have built that keep us from him and from one another, showing us that no matter what may happen, no matter how much fear and hate surround us, that love always wins… Where are those places of fear in each of us? How can we let Jesus help us to tear down the barriers that keep us living in fear? Reasonable, God loving people will disagree on some of the specifics… we have to listen to the stories of others; we have to extend kindness and a little bit of hope, even if today it’s to the person bagging our groceries… when young people of color tell us that they are more likely to be stopped by the police than their white counterparts, we have to listen to their stories; we have to look at the economic issues in our society that keep people poor and figure out ways to help make resources available; we have to make sure that all children are getting the education they need in order to help them have a better life; we have to recognize that ALL people, regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, their political affiliations, or who they choose to marry… are all created in the image of and loved by God… It must start with each of us… one relationship at a time… let us ask the God of Hope, the God who is love incarnate, to tear open the heavens and come down, that all may know peace and justice. Let it begin with us… we have much work to do. Let’s get busy. Let us pray: O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP Prayer for the Human family.