Today is the beginning of the Church Calendar called Advent; a word anglicized from the Latin adventus meaning “coming“, is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
Expectant waiting; Our gospel reading from Luke relates instruction given by Jesus in the temple to His disciples. Just prior to this reading Jesus has been in the temple daily preaching to all those present that would listen, including the Sadducees and spies sent from the chief priests and Scribes. Jesus preached the parable of the Wicked Tenants (20: 9-18), Paying Taxes to Caesar (20:19-26), none are given in marriage in heaven (20:27-44), The widows offering (21:1-4). He preached repentance, watchfulness and return to the worship of God. The messages time and time again spoke of the coming of the Son of Man.
In our Gospel reading we are instructed to be watchful and that many signs will be made visible to us. We are to be on guard; not to be weighed down with over indulgence, drunkenness, and the worries of this life; but to be alert at all times praying that we may have strength to escape all these things that will take place.
We do not know the time or the hour that the second coming will take place, but we do know we need Him to come to us each day in our devotions, our prayers, our worship and our ministries; all of us who need His saving grace. We are His present day disciples that carry the message of the cross of Calvary, His rising from the dead and ascension to heaven where He waits his return and prepares a place for all those that are counted as his followers.
Not so long ago, I read an editorial which had been sent into a newspaper. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share that writing with you and see whether you agree with the feeling which it tries to convey. This is what it said: “The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace — and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more!” Do you think that paragraph accurately describes the world or not? I ask because that quote was first published in The Atlantic Journal on June 16, 1833. Amazing! More than 175 years ago people were convinced society’s pressure was too great and the world’s pace was too fast. I guess some things just don’t change.
Some things just dont change. Many of us would say that phrase with a sigh of disappointment; but I say amen. We can take great joy and solace that Christs message is the same today as it was at his first coming. The Jewish nation was waiting for the coming of the Messiah, as we wait today for the second coming of the Messiah. The message by the prophets of the day was one of repentance and a return to belief and worship of the one true God. The call today for each of us is the same; one of repentance and worship of the one true God; of preparation for His coming.
As stated in the Atlantic Journal of 1833 people are overcome by the pressures of the day. Those pressures can cause our attention to be directed away from God and His desires for us to serve and for His love to fill our lives and actions.
While I have been somewhat incapacitated I have had time to review some of my small librarys contents. I have become fascinated by the lives of the religious that first inhabited the deserts shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. The part of their lives that has most fascinated me are the methods used to direct their daily lives to prayer and devotion even while they worked at various tasks.
One of the main methods used to help them concentrate on God and their relationship with Him was through daily devotion to scripture reading and prayer. Not necessarily Bible Study, which is important, but reading and contemplating its meaning in our lives. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the message of scripture. Scripture helps us to prepare ourselves for the second coming of Jesus. We learn His will for our lives in the words we read and contemplate and pray over. I encourage each of you to open your Bibles and read of the coming of the Christ Child. Think of the times that this little Babe entered, to be presented to the world in the humblest of situations; lying in a manger. We can experience those moments of peace with thoughts of that little peaceful face looking up from His straw filled bed.
To a dark and death-filled world, we have shared how Jesus’ entire life was dedicated to restoring the broken relationship between the heavenly Father and His sinful children. Jesus took on a thankless job and was committed to completing this monumental undertaking. So many of the joys, the comforts, the conveniences, the pleasures of life that you and I have been given, which we often take for granted, were denied to Him. His best friends misunderstood His mission and the sacrifices He had to make for their salvation. The leaders of His community and church found Him a nuisance, an annoyance, an aggravation who needed to be eliminated. At His trial, the government authority who had been sent to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, in Jesus’ case, chose to do just the opposite. Which is why, on a Friday morning almost 2,000 years ago, the Son of God, the innocent Savior of the world came to be nailed to a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem. There Jesus paid the price for our sin; there He died the death our disobedience had deserved. There, six hours later, in lonely darkness, Jesus died. But He did not stay dead; no, He didn’t. Three days after He was buried, Jesus came back to life — and a living Lord Jesus keeps coming back.
Which really is the point of this message: Jesus keeps coming back. It’s not all that important if you know when the end of the whole world is going to happen or when Jesus is going to judge the living and the dead. The truth is, the Bible is clear; you’re never going to know that unknown hour.
St. Paul said, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
My friends, I don’t know when the end is coming for this sinful world. Nor do I know when your own personal end will arrive. I do know if you have faith in Jesus as your Savior, those days, whenever they come, will not be frightening. His victory will be yours and you will experience His presence for all of eternity. Humble yourselves before Him each day in prayer and loving kindness to others.
May God bless each of you as you reach out to those around you, that during this season we will all prepare and strengthen the presence of Christ within us. Amen