Friday, December 02 2022
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“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Advent is the tension-struck time of preparation. In Bible Study on Monday nights and Tuesday mornings, we’re discussing The Rev. Fleming Rutledge’s book Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to think about the “once” part of this - Jesus’ life, death and resurrection two thousand years ago. In Bible Study, however, we are talking about the “future” part of this equation - the uncomfortable yet necessary discussion of the second coming of Christ. We are preparing for the coming of Christ - which we understand both spiritually and literally. These days, people are afraid of talking about the end of times. Hearing “the end is near!” is not inspiring words for most, but historically the church has understood that Jesus promises that something better is on the horizon. I believe Rutledge is helping point our gaze to this and inviting us to intentionally prepare.
Advent, for the past several decades, has been viewed as a penitential season as Fr. Duncan spoke about last week in his sermon last week. This is because many people treat this season like another Lent. When Fr. Duncan approved Blue Vestments for St. John’s Church to be bought, I was overjoyed! Not only because I look good in blue, which I do, but because blue is the color that represents hope! Blue, for me, separates and differentiates the liturgical seasons of Lent and Advent.
The time of preparation that we know of: with the Advent calendars and ABC’s Christmas Movie Countdown, is what society tells us to focus on: the preparation for Christmas. The church has been trying to refocus us; as Rutledge puts it, “Advent observance is called as a countermeasure” against a world and society that tells us we are just in a time of Christmas-lite. My friends: We. Are. Not.
Advent is about the preparation of the second coming. It is a challenging place for us to dwell in, think about, and wrap our heads around. Let us start with something simple: a promise. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end. Familiar words from our creed. We know that Jesus has a kingdom that is not of this world, where He reigns supreme, and death has no power. This is what we believe. We wait in hope for the second coming of our Savior. While we wait, “disappointment, brokenness, suffering, and pain that characterize[s] life in this present world is held in dynamic tension with the promise of future glory that is yet to come.” Life still happens. Just because we believe in the second coming, doesn’t mean that life is hunky dory in the meantime. It will be hard and staying the course of believing is challenging in itself. It is in the “Advent tension” where “the church lives its life.”
Last week, we lit our first candle of Advent which focused on hope which will remain with us the entire Advent season. This week, we focus on the gift of peace. It is hard to find peace during this time of the year as there are so many distractions from peace, like with sales at Target or on Amazon. It’s hard to settle ourselves and just be with Jesus. Jesus has many titles: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, but my favorite is the Prince of Peace. May the Prince of Peace guide you into the way of peace - bringing you into a state of contemplation, wondering the following questions:
We do not have to have all the answers right now. We do however need to place ourselves in a place of trust and direct ourselves to face the apocalyptic unveiling God is revealing to us. I will see you Sunday as we gather and light another candle in our Advent wreath. We stand together in tension, yet in unity, by preparing a way for the Lord. May we make straight His paths.
Your partner in hope and in peace,