The Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44
Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that you have inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: Advent is here, Alleluia, alleuia, alleluia. Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate and look forward. Each week we will light a new candle, on our Advent wreathe, and remind ourselves of the central themes of the four weeks of Advent. Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
We will focus our worship and praise with a sense of expectation. We all know that Christmas is the culmination of Advent. To quote that slogan that we often see displayed in November and December: "Jesus is the reason for the season." That is true for Advent as well as for Christmas. Jesus is central to all that we do and all that we say at this time.
Of course, then we also have to acknowledge that we are looking forward with anticipation to the Lord's coming again. We have to hold to our sense of child-like wonder, not only for the beautiful coming of Christ as a child but we are anticipating the triumphant coming of the rule and reign of Christ the King. How do we keep that anticipation alive and not lose our enthusiasm for the events that are yet to come?
Our reading from Matthew touches on that, doesn't it? This reading reminds me of the story of the 10 wise bridesmaids and the 10 other bridesmaids. We feel like we are waiting and waiting and waiting. When will he ever come?
" Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." He goes on to urge us to be ready.
"Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming...................
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."
As we prepare for the Advent season are we aware of what it will mean for us if we accept Jesus in the role of the coming King who brings light into the darkness of our world? What light might we need to allow to shine in those dark corners of our lives that we think only we know about? Who might we need to apologize to, who might we need to reach out to and ask for their forgiveness?
In the midst of all the messages, we hear in our Advent readings, as hear about the predictions of the coming King, how are we preparing room, for Jesus, in our own hearts and spirits?
How do we acknowledge Christ the King in our lives? What does that mean as we prepare for the coming of Christ, this year, and perhaps next year, or the year after that?
Our reading from Romans 13, this morning, is a tough one, isn't it? It uses language that we don't usually feel comfortable with. But it helps us focus on the daily decisions and attitudes that we need to challenge ourselves about.
"You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
I don't know about you, but a reading like that from Romans makes me, in my best moments, want to cry out: "come Lord Jesus."
Waiting and longing are wonders that we so often associate with Advent. We are awaiting the coming of Jesus and we are longing for the renewing power of the Holy Spirit to be active within us.
So on this first Sunday of Advent let us rejoice and give thanks for all that is yet to come. And let us proclaim with enthusiasm the truth of The Collect for Advent 1:
"Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever." Amen.
Bishops & Father Mike