For Sunday, November 27, 2011
This Sunday moves us from the Revised Common Lectionary’s “Season After Pentecost” to “Season of Advent” and from Year A to Year B. What this means is that we’ve completed our first of three annual sojourns through the Bible and are now beginning the second. It’s a good time to pause and reflect: how has my life been saved or changed by the gospel of Jesus over the last year? How this next year might my life be saved or changed as I deepen my commitment to him?
The English word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin ‘adventus’ which means “coming”. The purpose of Advent is to give us a reason to pull out all of our Christmas kitsch. Well… sometimes it seems that way, doesn’t it? What Advent is supposed to be about is this: preparing ourselves as the people of God for our Savior, the one through whom God would save us from ourselves and restore a world broken beyond recognition.
This week’s first reading, Isaiah 64, moves us from Christmas kitsch to the cosmic significance of what actually happened 2,000 years ago:
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! . . . Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Mary and Joseph waited on God and he acted. We may find ourselves waiting likewise today. What if we really believed God would act on our behalf? Take heart, because He did, and He will.
Yet while we wait expectantly we must also wait penitently:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we shrivel up like a leaf (a good metaphor for late fall in Wisconsin), and like the wind our sins sweep us away. . . Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever.
As this week’s final reading, 1 Cor. 1:3-9, reminds us, our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon each of us who follow Christ boundless gifts of grace and strength:
For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge . . . Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
May this Advent be one in which we bring ourselves into the Nativity (“the birthing among us”) of Jesus, and in the wonder of this moment find the grace which can renew our souls and slake the thirst of those around us who remain utterly lost in a desert of despair.