“Stay Alert”

Note from pastor j r FOR SUNDAY, NOVEBMER 30, 2014

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Where did 2014 go?  There is only one month left in this year.  Before you know it, Christmas will be here and then 2015 right around the corner afterwards.  Well, actually the New Year (new liturgical church year, that is) starts this Sunday, November 30, 2014 with the beginning of the Season of Advent.

The lectionary assigned scriptures for this Sunday from Isaiah 64 and Mark 13 are a bit puzzling in that they seem to talk about two different events and indeed they do.  The Isaiah text is looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, which happened with the birth of the Christ child.  On the other hand, the Mark 13 passage is yet another “end times” passage looking forward to the second coming of Christ.  These two events, being observed during Advent, sort of reminds me of the Roman God “Janus” which looks backwards and forward at the same time.

Yet, whether we look backwards at the birth of the Christ Child or forward to the second coming of Christ, Advent is a Season of Hope and we are called to ”Stay Awake” and to be living in ‘Hope.”  Warren T. Smith, in Journey in Faith, writes:

The Christian lives in Hope. We look to tomorrow with confidence, even absurd confidence. As the White Queen told Alice, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” There is an exuberance in the Christian Life, an exaltation which surpasses logic. Why? It is because we belong to Christ. Listen to Leo Tolstoy:

I believe in God, who is for me spirit, love, the principle of all things.
I believe that God is in me, as I am in Him.
I believe that the true welfare of man consists of fulfilling the will of God.
I believe that from the fulfillment of the will of God there can follow nothing but that which is good for me and for all men.
I believe that the will of God is that every man should love his fellow men, and should act toward others as he desires that they should act toward him.
I believe that the reason of life is for each of us simply to grow in love.
I believe that this growth in love will contribute more than any other force to establish the Kingdom of God on earth,
To replace a social life in which division, falsehood and violence are all-powerful, with a new order in which humanity, truth and brotherhood will reign.

Tolstoy is in effect telling us is to “Stay Alert” by living in mindful anticipation of all the possibilities to do good, love mercy, act just, and walk humbly before God.  All in all, it is a pretty good way to live in the hope of this moment and each day.

Join us for worship this week as the New “Church” Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.  We begin our journey through this Season of Hope; with a message I’ll preach from Isaiah 64:1-4 and Mark 13:32-37 called “Stay Alert.”

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