Last Sunday Before Advent – Year B

Think about your families. Think about your friends. Think about your government.

Think about your Schools, your Clothes, your Cars, your Toys.

Think about your banks, your debts, your bills.

All of us have at least some of these things.

Or – do they have us?

Are we really free? Or does the portion of the world we call ours – really own us.

Sometimes I feel like I have to borrow myself from time to time?

You?

How come we have so many liberties in this Country, but most of us still feel beholden to the powers of the World?

I guess its because this is the way the World is.

In this World, where we’ve lived for a million years, we struggle for physical, mental and spiritual ownership — to one degree or another.

In this world of matter, the ones who matter, are the ones who own some portion of the world.

The ones who make it, take it, or fake it all the way to the top — these are our rulers – small, medium and large.

Now, the Bible has a theory about this repeating cycle of ownership throughout human history:

The theory is that despite all our knowledge and striving after power in this world, we are still pretty much the same people we ever were. From the first day of our history to the last.

We repeat the same patterns in every time and place. The rich and the poor are always with us. As are the strong and weak, the clever and dull, the powerful and powerless.

And in every age, the world’s winners always conclude that because they dominate a portion of the world — they are superior to common men.

It is a true saying and worthy to be received, that to one extent or another, powerful people always believe they are superior people. And when the self rules, serfdom and slavery ensue.

This is history.

How many rulers — ancient and modern — believed they were divine!

Even in our private histories, most of us still invest a lot into making, taking or faking power over our portion of the world. And not just materialistically.

Yet, when we believe that we will be more free when we are more powerful in this world — then we have eaten the apple.

For it was the Beast, who said, “Eat of the tree of knowledge, and you will gain power to become like God.”

He said, “take more power, more control, more ownership, and you will become Gods unto yourselves.”

And that’s been our problem ever since.

Because knowledge is not wisdom, power is not freedom, and ownership of the world enslaves.

God is the only being in the universe capable of having all power and all freedom, all knowledge and all wisdom.

We were created to be joyful, to love God and one another. So that we might truly know this joy and love, we were born free to choose it, so that we might receive it graciously and humbly.

But, when we choose power instead of freedom, reward instead of grace — the world takes ownership of us.

When the Beast offered us the world, he didn’t mention that it came with a set of chains.

But, in Jesus, God intersected the ancient pattern of enslavement to the world, and he turned it upside down.

Today’s readings tell the story.

Daniel tells about four beasts. Four beasts which represent the human lust for power. The first beast was Babylon, the second Medea, the third Persia, and the fourth the Hellenistic World.

Each beast controlled the people of God, and each put their corrupt hands on the Temple.

Daniel predicted that the Son of Man would stop this repeating cycle once and for all. Jesus of Nazareth explained that indeed the Son of Man was a king, but not in the way of the world – whose kings enslave and divide. And thirty years after the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed for the last time.

But Jesus built a temple which would never be destroyed. Its people would be free, no matter whether they were poor, dull, and powerless, or smart, rich and in charge.

Three centuries after Jesus built his spiritual temple, one of its members was a powerful Roman woman. Her son had become the emperor, and she took a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

She found the place where Jesus defeated the beast.

She took thousands and thousands of coins which had been rendered unto Ceasar, and she ordered that a royal courthouse be built on that very site – a building they called a “Basilica.”

But, for the first time in history, a Basilica was not built to show worldly power, but to show a the world’s debt to the king who gave away his power, in exchange for our freedom.

Have you given away your power in exchange for the world’s freedom?

As the Scripture says, “Our kingdom is not of this world, those who see the Truth know this.”

Forty years ago, two great men died on the same day. President Kennedy, and C.S. Lewis. Both were possessed of great power.

Kennedy once observed that none of us is free until we are all free.

Lewis once observed that those of us who do the most good for the sake of this world, are the ones who seek the kingdom which is not of this world.

Which world do you seek to enter?

If you seek this world, and your place in it – you will be enslaved by it.

If you seek the Kingdom of God, and your place in it – you will help to liberate this world, and you too will begin to be free.

Amen

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