Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Sunday of Advent: Welcoming the end as a time for new a new beginning

Opening Sentence
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Collect of the Day: First Sunday of Advent
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 146, 147

Lessons: Amos 1:1-5, 13-2:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Luke 21:5-19

Advent is a season of hope, not of foreboding. Jesus speaks of many “signs in sun and moon and stars” which were to be portents of difficult times in the days prior to the fall of Jerusalem. But his words are, nonetheless, quite applicable to all generations, including our own.

It is easy to become distressed and perplexed with the news of the day. All around us are “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” But Jesus says, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

For those who long for his appearing, “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (that is, the Risen Christ vindicated after his suffering and exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords) is not a frightening thought, but a hopeful sign of the end, which we should welcome and embrace with anticipation and joy. It is the end of suffering, of pain, of death itself. It is the dawn of redemption; the beginning of the new creation with Jesus himself as the centerpiece.

Advent is the season to proclaim this great and glorious hope; and to welcome the end as the time for a new beginning.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel