A Door That Can Be Opened Only from the Outside
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
November 27, 2016 First Sunday of Advent, Sunday of Hope
Isaiah 60:1-20, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 25:36-44
Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the author of the extraordinary book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. The book shows how there can be a conflict between what modern medicine says to do and what really matters to a person whose life is nearing the end.
One of the reasons is that our perspective changes when we sense that our time is short. Modern medicine often asks the dying to endure isolation or debilitation for the sake of safety or prolonging life by weeks or months, whereas an end-of-life perspective tends to value most the continuation of connection, choosing to focus on love and home, family and friends with the precious time it has. Nearing death can open us to the spiritual realm more widely. It can spur us to share our remaining gifts for the good of a world we want to bless before we go. It can change the way we want to live the last stage of our life.
Of course, the prospect of death can also paralyze us with fear or negativity, but if we have the courage to open to its truth it can make us wise. It can make us more Christ-like and full of light. The world can look not more terrifying but more beautiful.
Paul guides us in that positive direction. He writes, “The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” He urges us to wake up and see that our time is short no matter what age we are, and to make our focus the spiritual life, not the life driven by our selfish desires.
Jesus says, “About that day and hour no one knows…. Therefore you…must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Advent reminds us that something is coming, something bigger than we are, something beyond our control, something that will change our perspective and reorder our priorities of what matters. Continue reading Sermon, November 27, 2016