First Sunday of Advent | December 2, 2018
“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:25-36 New Living Translation (NLT)
Happy New Year!
Some of you probably thought I lost it. Today we start a new church year. The season of Advent is the beginning of the church year. The word Advent means arrival. Many times when we think of Advent, we think of the baby Jesus. After all, the season of Christmas follows Advent. But one of the themes of Advent is also Jesus second coming – that time when Jesus splits the Eastern Sky and gathers his children home.
Over the next three years, we will be focusing on the gospel passages of the lectionary. We find ourselves in Luke, with Jesus prophecy about his return. Jesus makes it clear that we need to be aware – that we need to watch out. Jesus tells us the things that we need to look out for. Most of all, Jesus tells us that our hearts need to be ready for his return.
I think that is the most important thing about this passage – the importance of having our hearts prepared – for his first coming as we celebrate Christmas – and also for his second coming. Jesus’ instructions are to watch out…keep alert…and pray. If we do these things we will be able to stand before Jesus on the judgement.
This morning, one of our lay people read from Psalm 98 – which inspired Isaac Watt’s to write Joy to the World. We often think of Joy to the World as a Christmas hymn but really it is an Advent hymn. It reminds us that the King of Kings is returning to judge the world with fairness, justice, and righteousness. Jesus came to give us life and set us free from the curse of sin. So that if we watch out, keep alert, and pray, we may be able to withstand the judgement.
On this first Sunday of the new year, I encourage you to as Isaac Watts reminded us — “Let every heart prepare Him room!”