First Sunday of Advent
Have you ever been caught off guard? The first Sundays of Advent often have an ominous quality to them. Jesus reminds his listeners today about how many people who lived at the same time as Noah were caught off guard when the deluge came. Of course, we can end up being complete nervous wrecks if we spend each day in paranoia, looking for signs of impending doom. A healthy readiness is called for, one that keeps us alert so we can find signs of God’s reign—soon to be made manifest in Jesus—around us. In the coming days of holiday sensate bombardment and hours that fill up with busyness, this readiness can also serve to keep us focused on the coming gift of the Messiah, God’s Anointed. Now is the time to take stock, to evaluate life, to make changes where necessary, preparing for God’s holy reign to come.
There are numerous photographs of people who sleep on mountainside ledges, who carelessly dangle their feet into the space of geological chasms, and of course there’s the iconic photograph of workers eating their lunch on a beam of the under-construction Chrysler building in New York. Some people seem attracted to these precarious, stomach-churning locations; many of us are not. More of us have had the experience of beginning a new stage in life, with the excitement and occasional stomach-churning newness of a moment that can put us a bit on edge. Advent—its first couple of Sundays in particular—has a similar role in the passage of time that we call the liturgical year. It’s unlikely that the First Sunday of Advent makes many stomachs churn, but perhaps more would if we truly took it seriously that we are to make ourselves ready for the coming of the reign of God at any moment.
WALK IN THE LIGHT
When we encounter the daily news, it can seem as though Isaiah’s prophecy of swords turned into plowshares is running in reverse, making despair seem wiser than hopefulness. This is where Advent as the brink of God’s reign comes into play. Advent can be a time for each of us to de-weaponize, even in the smallest of ways, the world around us. Advent’s days offer a chance to look for opportunities to make the world a bit more hopeful for others. As we head through Advent, the elevated focus we have when we are standing at those new moments, those new stages of life, can help us tune out the despair, so we might open our ears and hearts to Jesus. This way, we can turn our backs on gloom, and accept Isaiah’s invitation to walk in the light of the Lord: Jesus Christ, the Word-made-Flesh!