The Reconciliation Plan


Message Title: The Reconciliation Plan
Back to basics
Season: Advent
Main Text: all
Scripture Reading: all
RCL Scripture: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
Focus: God’s plans are of reconciliation.
Function: To put our actions where our mouth is.
Other Notes: to include all creation; to be humble hearts acting on Gods love, NOT judging the worthiness of others


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What do you do if you run into someone but forgot their name?
  2. Small talk is awful
    1. The pressure of small talk can build up the stress enough, to not be able to receive names during introductions into my head.
      1. I’m the worst at remembering names in those first social meetings


Zephaniah 3:14-20 14Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem. 15The Lord has removed your judgment; he has turned away your enemy. The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil. 16On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. 17The Lord your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. 18I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts.They have been a burden for her, a reproach. 19Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time. I will deliver the lame; I will gather the outcast. I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth. 20At that time, I will bring all of you back, at the time when I gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the Lord.

Isaiah 12:2-6 2God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” 3You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. 4And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. 5Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” 6Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.

Philippians 4:4-7 4Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18 7Then John said to the crowds who came to be baptized by him, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.” 10The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He replied, “Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.” 14Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?” He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.” 15The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people.

EXPLAINATION: God’s plans are of reconciliation.

  1. Out of order to highlight that today is GAUDETTE Sunday—notice the pink candle. This represents Joy.
    1. Isaiah 12:2-6–God has done glorious things
    2. Philippians 4:4-7–Transformed hearts and lives—gentleness and the peace that surpasses all understanding
  2. Zephaniah 3: 14-20
    1. My favorite part about the Zephaniah passage is that this is the one bright side in the small prophecy. Previously, Zephaniah talked about fire that would burn things—but now the fire appears to be more of a refiner’s fire than all-consuming hell-fire.
  3. Luke 3:7-18
    1. John does not say new stuff to his Jewish audience, but reminds them of the Jewish teachings that they needed to follow.
      1. This wasn’t anything new
    2. Consider the “chaff” that Jesus sorts as the chaff in each of us rather than people who are wheat and people who are chaff.

INTERPRETATION: God’s plans are of reconciliation.

  1. God’s people are not to just speak words of holiness but to show their BELONGING to God’s family with their participation in God’s plan.
    1. Remember our struggle with coming up with a list last week?
    2. I think John’s conversation with the crowd is at the core of our own struggle—we don’t always connect our faith with our actions.
  2. A changed heart evidenced by actions
    1. Crowds – if you have 2 shirts, give 1 away, share your food
    2. Tax collectors – collect no more than you are authorized
    3. Soldiers – don’t cheat, harass, and be satisfied with your pay

APPLICATION: To put our actions where our mouth is.

  1. God is in the restoration & reconciliation business
    1. We should do the same
    2. How are we opening doors for healing & reconciliation?  PAUSE
  2. Follow this train of thought for a moment:
    1. Just feeding the poor is not enough—for they will be hungry again.
      1. Yes, I know that the saying goes “give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
      2. But I’d like to consider that until the systems are changed that make the poor vulnerable, we will continue to have the poor.
      3. Until God’s kingdom is brought, we are called to fight the systems that make others vulnerable.
  3. Our experience this weekend with Jubilee is step one—we don’t just give gifts; we get to know and care for families.
    1. Are there other ways that we can take the essence of Jubilee into practice in the rest of our lives?
      1. Not just serving people
      2. But caring about them

CONCLUSION: God’s plan isn’t about fancy words or fun small talk. God’s plan is restoration and redemption.

Benediction: May we walk the talk.

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