November 27, 2016

 Advent

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Sunday of Advent - Year A

A Sermon Preached by The Rev Ian M Delinger on November 27, 2016

 

O God, as we look toward the day when we
see You face to face, let us remember Your ways and works,
calling us out of the darkness to walk in the light
the coming of Your Son to us, Your children.

 

Today’s readings are rich with the language of preparing and of anticipation.

  • “In the days to come” from Isaiah
  • “Salvation is nearer to us now that when we became believers” from Romans
  • “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” from Matthew

 

None of the writers of these texts were writing about decorations, parties and gift-giving. They were writing about some deep, theological concepts that they believed to be coming to fruition at some point in time. Therefore, we are to be ready for that day by preparing ourselves in mind, body and spirit in order to be worthy of what is to come. Each of these writings were done in times that were less-than-perfect. The Fall of Humanity clearly to blame. It’s been a long time since even Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and we’re still waiting. Are we still preparing?

 

I often think about the return of Christ; I often pray to Jesus that He return in my lifetime and save us.

 

Will that happen like it is written in Daniel or Revelation? I don’t know. Personally, I doubt it will be like that. I have no idea what Christ’s return will be like. When I was younger, I firmly believed that Christ’s return will be like His life as we read in the Gospels, and we’ll just do the same thing again: not believe Him and persecute Him. I still believe that to be a possibility, and in the possibility that we’ve done it repeatedly already. But that’s to dwell on the negative aspects of humanity.

 

More positively, I pray that Christ comes again and brings peace to humanity, whether that is in a way that humanity continues into eternity or He takes us to that place where we receive redemption, and where we can experience a world or a state of being where “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn way any more.”

 

The purpose of Advent is not just to prepare to remember The Incarnation; it is a time that we concentrate on looking forward to Christ’s return.


So, during this Advent, I ask you to ponder the question: What would you do if Christ returned this Christmas?


What are we Christians doing during Advent and Christmas? We happily tell people: Jesus is the reason for the season. But I would venture to guess that most of us envision that to be the warm fuzzy nativity story that we have crafted. Our faith is very different from that warm fuzzy nativity story. We all know that, but we sometimes need to remind ourselves what we’re doing as Christians.

 

We believe that “the Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.” We also believe that Christ “will come, not in weakness but in power, and will make all things new.” That’s straight from the Catechism. Advent is the time carved out in the Church’s calendar to contemplate that.

 

We are moving toward a celebration and remembrance of the historicity of the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh. The readings are pointing us to the Christmas Story, but they are also pointing us to a story yet to unfold. The Christmas Story calls us to take our history and remember, and then take that into our present to look toward our own adoption as Children when Christ comes again.

 

In a very real sense, we are always Advent People.

 

Today’s readings are not only filled with anticipation and preparation, they are filled with the hope of a glorious new world, or glorious new state of being:

 

  • “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
  • “Let us live honorably as in the day”
  •  “The Son of Man is coming.”


In our anticipation and preparation, we are also to participate in the ushering in of that glorious new world. We believe:

 

  • That the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
  • That the Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
  • And that the Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

 

That is our preparation: it is our ministry, our pursuit of justice, peace and love. That sounds very different from risking one’s life on a step ladder to put up the perfect Christmas decoration that will annoy the neighbors, or fending off hundreds of crazy-but-otherwise-perfectly-normal people in Target, fighting for the last toy for the grandkids. It also sounds very noble and very challenging. But that’s what we are called to do as Christians.

 

We are Advent people. Though Christ is with us everyday in the Eucharist, We are looking for the Coming of the Son of Man when the world will be at peace and the peoples will live peaceably with one another.


We can’t just leave that up to God, though. We have a role.

 

So, as you get ready for Christmas, give some thought to what you believe about the Coming of the Son of Man. Enjoy the parties, the decorations, the visits to and from family and friends. Leave room, though, for being Advent People. Use this time of anticipation and preparation to promote justice, peace and love. And pray that:

 

Almighty God gives us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and to put on the armor of light. And pray for Christ to come again in his glorious majesty, so that we may rise to the life immortal.


Amen.

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