Advent I (Luke 21:25-36) 12/2/18 Epiphany, Norfolk   Leave a comment

Well – we have arrived at another Advent Season.

Advent might be my favorite season

of the whole church year.

It isn’t too long –

just 4 weeks –

and it leads up to Christmas –

my other favorite season.

It’s colorful,

with its purple hangings.

And we have all sorts of “seasonal things”

that begin making their appearance –

the Chrisman Tree,

the Advent Wreath,

the crèche,

greens on the altar.

We change our liturgy a little –

to simplify it –

and to point to the fact

that the seasons have changed.

The 1st Sunday of Advent

also begins a new church year.

They cycle of readings,

and music,

and preaching

begins all over again –

today.

All denominations don’t observe Advent.

We are what is known as a “Liturgical Church” –

we follow a “Liturgical Calendar” –

and it’s the Liturgical Churches

that observe Advent

and the other seasons of the year.

Well –

they’ve done some strange things

with our readings this morning –

this 1st Sunday of Advent.

They have used Jeremiah

for our first reading –

Jeremiah – the great “Prophet of Doom.”

Jeremiah always saw the glass half empty.

Everything for Jeremiah

was doom and gloom.

The only reason they put up with him

was that his prophesies always came true.

But this morning –

Jeremiah is positive.

God is going to fulfill his promise

to the House of Judah –

the Southern Kingdom.

And he foretells the birth of Jesus –

a “righteous branch”

that will “spring up” for David –

the great King David –

and the Nation of Judah

will again be great, again.

After 33 chapters of doom and gloom –

Jeremiah finally see hope.

And then we get our Gospel Reading

from the Gospel of Luke.

Now – for the New Year –

wouldn’t you think

the compilers of the Lectionary

would start with the beginning of Luke?

No!

They go almost to the end of Luke –

to just before the Last Supper –

and use this passage of gloom and doom.

They have reversed the mood and tone

of the two writers.

Luke is telling about signs in the sky –

and distress among nations.

He tells of people fainting –

and the powers of heaven being shaken.

And he says:

“when you see these things taking place,

you will know that the Kingdom of God is near.”

And he goes on,

saying:

“Heaven and earth will pass away…

Be on guard

so that your hearts are not weighed down…

with the worries of this life,

and that day catch you unexpectedly,

like a trap.”

Wow!

That is scary stuff.

What happened to my beautiful Advent,

with its special music,

and candles,

and color,

and sense of excitement

around the rebirth of Christ

in our hearts –

and the hope for peace on earth

among nations,

and among tribes,

and among families,

and among friends?

Where did it go?

Well –

it’s not here, yet.

We still have some work to do

getting our hearts and souls ready.

And Advent offers us a beautiful 4 weeks

to get ready

“to stand before the Son of Man.”

All of this Biblical and theological stuff

can get so heavy –

that we almost turn and run from it.

But I’m not sure it has to be that hard.

We believe

that Christ –

the Son of God,

or the Son of Man –

will come again

at the end of time.

That’s called the Eschaton –

“the final days.”

That’s what our readings this morning

are discussing.

The Eschaton is a theological concept

that is based on Biblical theology.

But that’s not where you and I live –

day by day.

I think we’re more concerned

with living decent, loving, God fearing lives –

day by day –

one hour at a time –

that might someday

get us to that Eschaton.

I’m concerned about today.

How do I support and uphold

my friends and the people that need me?

How do I tend to my own spiritual needs?

How do I avoid hurting people –

ignoring people –

bringing pain into peoples’ lives?

How do I make life just a little bit better

for the people around me –

and thus, for myself,

and thus, for the whole world?

That’s what Advent is all about –

for me.

And these next for weeks

are a time the church has set aside

for me to step back –

look at my own life,

look at my own heart,

look at my own relationship to God –

and see where I can make some improvement.

I think we all know

that President George H. W. Bush died Friday.

As the media has done their reporting

on his life and death –

they have played over and over

his statement –

hoping for a “kinder, gentler nation.”

I remember his saying that.

I can also remember thinking

how wonderful that would be –

what a beautiful dream.

Well – it hasn’t come to pass, yet –

that’s for sure.

But it still can.

Maybe not in my life time –

maybe not in yours –

but it can still happen – somehow.

That’s what I think Advent is all about.

It’s about trying –

trying for a kinder, gentler life,

a kinder, gentler family,

a kinder, gentler church,

and a kinder, gentler world.

We lit our first candle on our Advent Wreath

this morning.

The Advent Wreath is sort of a time clock for us.

Each week another candle gets lit –

telling us that we’re running out of time.

And Christmas Eve –

the Christ Candle gets lit –

telling us that the clock has stopped.

Preparation is over –

this Advent Season.

The living Christ is in our hearts again.

“Be alert at all times,

praying that you may have the strength

to escape all these things that will take place,

and to stand before the “Son of Man.”

Amen.

Posted December 4, 2018 by Church of the Epiphany in Epiphany Moments

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