The First Sunday of Advent
2 December 2018 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Jeremiah 33, 14016 + Psalm 25 + 1 Thessalonians 3, 12- 4, 2 + Luke 21, 25-28, 34-36
For many of us who use technology today, making a journey sometimes means pulling up some program on the internet into which you enter the location you are headed for, the end of the journey. Today we pick up the Gospel of Luke, and from now until November 24, 2019 with very few exceptions we shall make our way as though on a journey with Luke as our guide. We begin the journey this first Sunday by entering the destination. If we don’t know where we’re going, we’re never going to get there. It’s as simple as that. This Sunday and next we shall take a look through the eyes of Luke at where we are going, at how this journey will end. The last two weeks of this season will then explore how it begins or where it starts: in Nazareth and Bethlehem.
In the course of this year and its journey, the whole of Christ’s life and teaching will pass before us. We will re-visit all the mysteries of his life, reliving his whole story. It is a story we have heard many times, and because of that, there is great danger, and that danger is that we will fall asleep like children listening to familiar nursery rhymes told over and over again. The constant urging of this season as that we stay awake, because in these days, there are many who sleepwalk through life. They have ears but hear not, eyes that do not see. Men and women enlightened by Christ Jesus are people awake, alive, and alert.
The Lord asks us to stay awake as watchful and faithful disciples. This world is in agony and full of suffering just like Jesus Christ in the garden the night before he died. What he asked of those disciples then, he asks of us today. Awake and Watchful, we shall see this story as new and present and alive. We are not playing and old video here. Each celebration of every feast brings back the event in its original clarity and vitality never glowing cold, lifeless, or fading away. We are not spectators, but actors in all of this.
Knowing where we are going, and headed into the second coming of Christ, we know by faith what is happening in this world. The earliest followers of Christ believed that the second coming was near, and would be preceded by cosmic signs. We are not so sure about that. All the false prophets of the end saw a time of gloom and doom. But, Jesus spoke of it as a time of liberation and salvation. The world is not headed for catastrophe in spite of what some may think or say. God has a plan and a goal for this world, and that goal is the coming of God’s reign in all its fullness.
What is expected of us is that we live with joy and bear witness to truth, to justice, to love and peace. Every commitment to peace, justice, and human rights is a witness to the Gospel. The way to witness to truth is to live truthfully. The way to witness to justice is to act justly in all our dealings with others. The way to witness to love is to act lovingly towards others. And the way to witness to peace is to live in peace with others. When all the world denies the truth and lives a lie, when justice and peace are mocked by the powerful who rule for their own preservation, Jesus says we should Stand erect and hold our heads high for in him we have and find the strength to remain steadfast and faithful, sure of what is to come.
In this hemisphere we are moving into the darkest time of the year, but we know that by the end of this season, the days will grow longer and the darkness of night will give way. In this world today, we are the hope and the light. This season gives us a marvelous opportunity to brighten the lives of everyone who lives in darkness, of everyone who is worn out and tired, working two or three jobs to make ends meet, living with pain or sickness and ready to give up. People of God, Church of God, stay awake, stand up. Hold up your heads. There is a third coming of Christ that Luke will tell us about in the course of his Gospel. It is the coming of the Holy Spirit that reveals the presence of God within us and all around us every single day and all night long.