First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Luke 21: 25-28;34-36.
Happy New Year! As we begin this new season of Advent (and new liturgical year), you might imagine that we would have readings that speak of preparing for the birth of Jesus, or that would take us back to the very beginning of creation. But no, the readings instead take us to the end of all things in the second coming of Jesus. We explore the different meanings of the coming of Jesus.
We talk about the coming of Jesus in three different ways. The first is his historical birth in Bethlehem as a child, in fulfillment of the many prophecies of the coming of the Messiah (and picked up in our first reading from Jeremiah); the second, which is picked up our first reading today, is our ability to allow the Lord to actually have life and existence within us, when we accept Jesus into our lives, or to come to birth within us; the third way is when we talk about the 'Second Coming' of Jesus at the end of history. It is this idea of the final coming of Jesus that unifies all the readings today and provides the focus for us as we wait with hope in this season of Advent.
When we read Paul's first letter - the first letter that he wrote to the Thessalonians, and the very first and oldest document written in the New Testament - we have a very strong sense that the return of the Lord is very near. Paul seemed to have believed that the Lord Jesus would return again RSN (real soon now) - certainly while he was still alive. That belief had changed by the time Paul wrote his later letters, and like him we continue to look to that day with hope and longing. Paul knew that everything in the world (defined by the sun and moon and stars) had changed because of that amazing and incredible event of the resurrection of Jesus. He also knew that as a Christian people our job was to bring that change and difference into the world through being changed and renewed by the presence of Jesus in the Holy Spirit in our own lives. This is the dramatic change and difference that Jesus can make in our lives. This is the only way that we need to prepare for the second coming - to live lives of virtue and holiness united to Jesus now.
Sometimes we may be like the captain of Oceanic flight 815 who announces to the passengers: "Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, and welcome once again to Oceanic 815. Thankyou for choosing to fly with us today. I wanted to give you an update on our flight status. We have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are having a slight difficulty with our instruments, so that we are actually not at all sure where we are right now, but the good news is that we are making excellent time." So many people today live like that - lost and uncertain as to where we are, yet racing ahead at full steam to ensure that we get wherever it is that we are going as quickly as possible!
Maybe it is time for us to take stock of where we are and work out where we are headed in our lives? As we continue in this season of Advent, let us prepare in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour - and allow the Lord to truly be present within us now...
(Recorded at St Michael's, 9.30am - 10'47")