How are you all doing? I wish so much that we could all see each other and answer that question. I don’t think this time has been easy on anyone and it has certainly been a very frightening time. But, a vaccine is coming, 2020 is almost over, there seems to be a dim light at the end of the tunnel and I’m staring down that tunnel as hard as I can, looking for it!
Today is the first Sunday in Advent. It is the time we start to look forward to Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus. So why must we read these dark visions of the end of the world? As if this year hasn’t been dark enough! Who is in the mood for apocalyptic preaching? I guess before we get to the warm and cozy manger, we have to spend some time worrying about the stars falling out of the sky.
Advent, taken from the word ‘adventus’ means “coming.” Throughout Advent our readings are full of warnings telling us to get ready, prepare, step up. We start Advent today preparing for the arrival of the baby Jesus at Christmas and watching for the coming of Christ in the world around us.
There are many apocalyptic predictions in the Bible. The good news is that God dwells in the center of the apocalypse. God dwells with us in the darkest times. I have prayed more this past year than most other years. My prayer has boiled down to this: “God help us. God help us to survive.” And, as I pray, I feel God’s presence even in this dark time when so many are suffering and dying.
I’m just not a big fan of apocalyptic visions. Instead, I believe that these things predicted in our scriptures, tell of the coming of the Son of Man, not at some terrible end of time but the Son of Man coming to live and walk among us every day. I believe that Jesus comes back again and again to us at Christmas when we celebrate his birth, at Easter, when we celebrate his resurrection, at Pentecost when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that Jesus can live among us here and now.
I also believe that as we live out our lives inspired by Christ, we, you and I, become Christ in the world. In this way, we are the second coming of Christ and if so, we are charged to stand tall and keep awake. Jesus is not telling us to be afraid of a terrible future, he is telling us to open our eyes, open our hearts, to be awake and aware of the needs of others around us and to act as Christ in our loving service.
Stay Awake! We can use our small lives to change the world. We can work for peace and justice. We can be stewards of our environment. We can serve the poor and the hungry. We can try to share God’s love with everyone. In these ways, we establish the kingdom of God in our homes, our churches, our communities, and the world.
Our Lord is coming! Jesus is coming to help us. Soon we will be blessed again with the birth of our Jesus who will stand by us. Jesus who shares our burdens. Jesus who helps us. Today we turn our heads toward Bethlehem, toward the star in the sky. He is coming.