Monday, December 2, 2013

Sermon for Advent 1 2013

Be ready

My father was career Army.
When he said we were leaving on vacation at 8 am on Saturday morning.
you better be ready and standing by the front door,
your little suitcase in hand,
because the car was backing out of the driveway at 8:01.

I guess I could say my dad was a man
who would have liked the season of Advent.

Advent is about being ready.

Have you noticed, there are certain people in this parish--
you may be one of them--
who often back into their parking spaces.
I commented on this once
and was told
this was so they could make a quick get-away!
This type of parking
is sometimes called “back in, head out" parking.

We might also label this type of parking
“advent parking.”

Advent calls us to be ready.

Advent  is a word that comes from the Latin adventus
which means “arrival” or “coming”.
The liturgical season of Advent refers to
the coming or arrival of Christ into the world--
referring to both Christ arriving as a baby,
who will be named Jesus,
and the second coming of Christ into the world.

Who is coming?
When is he coming?

Well, our scripture readings today tell us we don’t know when.

Now some of you might argue with that
and say,
No, he’s coming on December 25th.
That’s his birthday.

And you are right.
Sort of.
We don’t really know the date Jesus was born.
There is no date or even time of year mentioned in the Bible.
Scholars argue this widely
but we do know that by the year 400,
celebrating on December 25th had become the norm.

And what about Jesus coming again?
We may have some different theological views on that as well.
But we do proclaim Jesus coming again.
We say it every week when we celebrate the Eucharist.

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Christ WILL come again.

The scriptures for this first Sunday of Advent are all about time.

Isaiah says--”In days to come...

Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us
“You know what time it is....”.

Then Matthew’s gospel somewhat contradicts that
and says
“But about that day and hour no one knows”
Not even the angels.

But the true message is clear--
whether we know what time it is or we don’t have a clue,
the message of advent is this:  be ready.

Be ready.

Advent is a season which focuses our attention on time passing.
Each week in church we light one candle on the advent wreath.
On Christmas eve we will light the white candle in the center.
We are getting ready.

Some of us use special advent calendars.
Each day you open a little door or color a picture or do something special.
Our son makes an advent calendar each year for his children.
Each day there is a card and it has some activity they will do together
as a family.
It may be as simple as making blueberry muffins together.
It might be to load up their pick up truck
and take a load of firewood to an elderly neighbor.
But each day--from December 1st to December 24th they do something
as a family.
They take time to step away from iPhones and legos and television
and daily chores
and be present.
To joyfully celebrate what is right before them.
When we learn to be present--fully present--with one another,
we also learn to be present with God.

Jesus is telling us in Matthew’s gospel,
don’t assume you have an endless amount of time.
Keep awake.
Keep awake and be ready.

Not everything that happens in our lives or in the world
is joyful and happy.
Sometimes it does indeed feel like a thief has broken in
and stolen or damaged what we treasured.
There are things we cannot change.

But there is One that never changes.
That one is God.

Remember, the word Emmanuel
means God with us.
Remember that Advent is the season when we sing the hymn,
O come O come Emmanuel.

God with us--always.

Advent is a season of preparation.
Unlike Lent which is a penitential season,
Advent is a time of joyful preparation.
A time of waiting in hope
for all that will come and all that will be.

What will you do this advent to be ready for Jesus?
What will you do to make room for God in your life?
What are the hopes you have and want to nurture?

How will you answer the door,
when there is a knock and you are asked,
“Do you have any room here for something new to be born?”

Do we have any room for something new to be born?

Sometimes we get so busy and overwhelmed with all the stuff--
both physical and emotional clutter--
that we can’t even find our way to the door--
much less open it.

Advent is a season of preparation.
To seize the day and to make room in our mangers.
To get ready for whatever and whenever the knock comes.

That knock is not something to dread or to fear.
That knock is something to be excited about, hopeful.

So keep awake.
Carpe diem.
Park your lives “back in, head out.”
Be ready.
Be ready for the light to break through the darkness.

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