Saturday, December 01, 2012

Advent 1 C for All Saints

Reading the signs of the times can often be a discouraging activity.
Just look at the Daily Mail!

Today we begin a new liturgical year during which we will recall God's actions in our world throughout history. We begin, as we do every year, with the season of Advent, during which the Church teaches us to live in enthusiastic expectation of the Lord’s coming, and in vigilant concern as his “hour” approaches.
But as we wait, the signs of the times that surround us seem oppressive, perhaps alarming. In our gospel, Luke makes use of apocalyptic images, and refers to the recent fall of Jerusalem, to announce the coming of the ‘day of the Lord’, as a great cosmic catastrophe.

And it's tempting, as we read the text today, for us to carry a sort of imaginary score card in our heads, and to try and tally up the annual crop of natural and man-made disasters to help us deduce whether or not we are truly living in the end times.

Advent, after all, reminds us of the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven and hell.
We are invited to face these head on, and consider how ready we really are.
And for me that's scary. Seriously scary. Honestly, I'm inclined to join those who, according to our gospel, faint with fear....

But there's good news, always. Our gospel speaks of the certainty that Christ will come. From the time of St Paul, a mere twenty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians have been living in expectation of the Lord’s coming. Nobody and nothing can take that hope from us. The more the world becomes inhospitable, the more we await the coming of our Saviour. If we ourselves feel that God is absent, we will surely wait with still greater longing, more pressing urgency. As we struggle with the harsher realities of our lives, we remember that we are to live without allowing the world to quench our hope, or allowing evil to stifle our dream. As believers, we do not deny the presence of evil in our world, but we refuse to submit to it for we know that in spite of everything, in spite even of ourselves, God will not abandon us.
He comes to us – meets us where we are and will take us to where He is.
That is the essence of our Advent hope...That God loves us too much to leave us to our own devices.
He will transform us – and as we carry that hope, we too can be agents of transformation, creating situations of hope, that spread out to touch the lives of others.

Now when these things begin to take place, STAND UP AND
Apocalyptic texts (those looking forward to the end times) take a serious look at everything going on in the world -- all the suffering and fear, all the fireworks and skirmishes between the powers that be -- and see within them all the true and final destiny for all Creation.


So the message of today’s gospel is
When you notice all these disasters in your life and in your world – DON’T panic.
Though the odds may seem stacked against you, this is not the end of everything but the beginning of redemption – all shall be well.

Remember, it’s all too easy to misread the signs. - and Advent itself is a sign.
A sign for our beleaguered church
A sign for our war-torn, despairing world.
Christ is coming!
For us as Christians, Advent is always experienced in the light of Christmas. Though we recall those who awaited the Messiah through centuries of Old Testament history, our waiting is qualitatively different.
We know that Christ has arrived… we celebrate the 'time of waiting' in the knowledge of Emmanuel, the God who dwells with us. Thus we celebrate Advent within the context of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter! We know, on one level, the end of the story…though we continue to look anxiously to see how it will end for our planet, for the whole of this world that God loves so much.

But we know one truth.

Christ is coming soon.
We proclaim this week by week
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”
When we eat this flesh and drink this cup we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come in glory”
The signs are very clear.
We look not at a dead-end, a cul-de-sac, but at a cross roads.
The point of God's intersection with us….the moment when our human time meets with God’s eternity… the day of resurrection!

But as we live at this point of intersection, we need to be alert to recognise the signs that tell us not just that the Kingdom is nearly upon us, but that it is already here
Remember that fig tree, that bore its buds for long months before the conditions were right for them to spring into new live.
Remember the signs that are all around us
Sings of restoration as shoppers buy more than they need in order to feed the hungry through the food bank
Signs of acceptance as those who were outside the walls come inside to sit down and feast at the table.

Jesus says we should "be on guard," "be alert," "stand up and raise your heads" so that we don't miss out on all the wonderful things God is already doing, or forget to look out for those God has in store.
They may be easy to miss....a shoot springing out of the root of Jesse is small, fragile, - but all important.

So this Advent, let us celebrate hope in all its elusive beauty
Let us cling to the clearest sign of all, the sign of the cross, where Love demonstrates for now and for eternity its power over all those other signs that scare us most
And let us celebrate together that foretaste of the Kingdom, a banquet spread for all God’s people.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Thank you Kathryn! I *really* needed to hear that today!

Wonderful :-)