December 17, 2017 – Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Waiting for the Light

Third Sunday of Advent – December 17, 2017

First Lutheran Church – Winnipeg, MB


Along with several billion people on the planet,

my 15 year old Theo and I have been waiting for the latest Star Wars movie,

The Last Jedi, to come out.

40 years ago, when I was 10, the first one came out.

So really you could say I have been waiting a long time for this picture.

Well, we went to see it on the very first night we could have seen it which was Thursday night.

While I’m not going to give away any spoilers – because

I know there are many of you who want to see it – I will say this:

I was really struck at how appropriate it is to see this movie during Advent.

As many of you know, the official colour of Advent is blue.

It’s the blue of the night sky just before the sun comes up.

So Advent is the season of hope.

It’s hoping beyond hope that even though it is dark the sun will come up again.

It’s having faith the sun will come up.

When darkness seems deep and you can’t see the sun, Advent invites you to wait and hope.

That Jesus and his light will come.


Well, I’m not giving anything away when I say that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia and

The Rebels are having very hard times in the Star Wars universe.

We know that from the last film, The Force Awakens.

It does indeed seem as if the Rebels are in their last gasp and that the evil Empire,

now known as the First Order, will take control of the universe.

Darkness and oppression will reign, and light will have left the world.

As the evil Supreme Leader Snokes says, they are to snuff out the light wherever they find it.

Once and for all.


A lot of the imagery in the film has to do with light and darkness, of course,

and the lingering fragile sparks of light that remain and give hope of a better day.

As I reflected on the readings this week, I thought about all those things that snuff out hope.

Isaiah addresses a situation in which the people have

finally returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile – but it is not exactly party time.

Things are very difficult – and it is difficult for the people to maintain any hope.

They are still under a foreign power.

Their city is in ruins and it is very difficult to rebuild.

Their leadership has been decimated and things are not going at all well.

There is a lot that snuffs out their hope of a better day.

In the midst of this, the prophets speaks and offers words of comfort –

the prophet speaks, first of all, of what God will do, the things God is good at:

God brings good news of hope, God binds up the brokenhearted,

God comforts those who mourn.  God provides.

God does what God is good at: God sticks with them and gives them what they need,

which is above all hope that a better day is coming and that God will never let them go.

Then the prophets speaks of what the people can do, given that God gives them what they need:

The people are to work in hope: they are to build, they are to raise up,

they are to repair and restore.

These are the things you can do – when you have hope.


In the Gospel reading, John appears and John is the prophet of hope.
He comes at a dark time, with the people still ruled 600 years later by a foreign power.

With poverty and violence and prejudice all around.

He comes and, like Isaiah, he announces hope: he comes to witness to the light,

to testify that light is coming into the world.

He is not he Messiah yet he is sent by God – sent to give hope, hope that light is coming.

Even though the people cannot yet see it – light is coming.

A new day of healing and inclusion and forgiveness is coming.


What is it that snuffs out your hope?  What is it that snuffs out light?

There have been many headlines lately that could easily do this.

But there are many other ways darkness snuffs out light.

Being stuck in a dead end job or a bad relationship.

Being crushed by grief or weighed down by depression.

Perhaps being slowly ground down by a succession of bad breaks.

The consequences of even just one bad decision can be devastating.

Physical or emotional abuse can snuff out light as can illness and simple weariness.


The thing is: it’s very hard to work and be the people of light we are called to be when

we have no hope, when the light seems so far away.


So today, I am here to announce hope.

When all seems lost, Princess Leia says something like this in The Last Jedi:

when all is dark and the sun is on the other side of the world,

hope is knowing that it is still there and the sun will come up.

The sun is still there – the prophet testifies to the light.

This week the sun was shining brightly at Sargent and Victor as a Christmas feast was

laid out for a hundred of our neighbours on Wednesday evening.

Do you know what that feast announced?

It announced that there are people who give a crap about this neighbourhood and its people.

It announced that every single person who came is precious in God’s eyes.

It announced that they matter. And that this neighbourhood matters.

And that the ground on which we are standing is holy – because God is here.

Like John, we are not the messiah.

But like John we are sent to be witnesses that there is one, and that he gives a crap.

That there is light despite the darkness – even if it seems it is on the other side of the world.

We are sent to announce the  great good news – God and God’s light filled tenderness are here.

We are sent to bind up and build and restore – because we know there is light.

We are sent, as Paul writes, to rejoice and give thanks and pray for the better day to come soon.

We are sent, like John, to testify to the reality of light – and to bring hope.

Friends, the sun will come up – it is lurking there even now and you can see signs of its coming,

like we witnessed this past Wednesday evening.

Jesus and his light will come.  So together, let us say, “Amen.”

Pastor Michael Kurtz


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