Father Mark, Sermons

Advent 2C; Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6

My father shared the hobby of coin collecting with my brother and me as boys. We were fascinated by the art, beauty and history in coins. I found the contrast between raw silver ore and uncirculated–untouched silver coins to be fascinating. The coins are shimmering as they reflect light. The silvery light from shiny coin catches the eye.

What does your eye gravitate towards, the raw ore or the finished coin?

Refined silver is much more attractive that in its unrefined state. Refined silver is benefits us in many ways: as the best thermal and electric conductor there is. Silver’s antimicrobial qualities make it useful in medicine.

The light that silver reflects holds our attention. I’ve never seen a group of women who are introduced to a new piece of silver, gold or diamond jewelry, to react apathetically to it. They know of the value of the beauty reflected in the refined metal.

Perhaps this is why Malachi describes the messenger of God as one who acts as arefiner and purifier of silver, beckoning the question: Where in our lives are we like refined silver—reflecting the beauty of its creator andwhereare we like raw ore that has yet to be refined?

John the Baptist speaks of a refiner’s fire. He has spent his life in the wilderness allowing God to refine his soul.

I expect that each of us is like a silver mine. John says the One who is coming will take to mining and refining that which is precious within us, separating out the slag. There’s always more to be mined and refined and so the messenger keeps coming to us. The mining and refining takes time and deliberate inner work.

Raw ore is crushed, chemically washed and fired to extract the pure ore that it is to reflect the light of its true nature. Mining is hard work—mining involves digging.

Prayer and spiritual study are like digging for and processing the ore that is within us into refined silver.

The point to remember is that it is the refiner, not the metal itself that does the work. The ore is not the refiner. The ore is worked on by the refiner. We are not the refiner but the ore.

The messenger points to the refiner and his skill of applying the laser of Divine Love so that we reflect more and more of the beauty of who we truly are. Where it’s easy for us to muck things up is to possess a belief that something is wrong with the ore. Ore is natural. There’s nothing bad about it. It’s just not finished yet.

When we look at our unfinished selves, it is easy to react–feeling shame when we look at the unfinished state of our ore. But this is not God’s intention.The danger in this is that the shame might inhibit us into withdrawing from the love of the refiner’s fire which would be counterproductive to our becoming refined.

Shame is a distortion that is only productive when it motivates us to move back into the refiner’s hands.

God has created us to shine. We await again for the One who will free us to do so.

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