Sunday, December 2, 2018
1st Sunday of Advent
The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:
First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm: 25:1-10
Second Reading: I Thessalonians 3:9-13
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-26
The liturgical color for the day is: Purple or Blue
Jesus called them to open their eyes and do what Jeremiah called them to do—to lift up their heads and see what is happening all around them.
What is happening? It was not shaping up to be a perfect Christmas. It was more of parking lot mania where people cut each other off and have no regard for the other. Their world is our world. Our world is there world. Magnify it—examine it—what do you have? Despair!
Despair is the place from which there is an absence of theological hope. We humans have met despair when we cannot imagine God’s promised alternative future.
That was the deal there in Jerusalem with the followers of Jesus—the days were surely coming when all would be different. Could they imagine it? Could they conceive of it? Could they dream of it and claim it before the fig tree sprouted new leaves?
That was also the situation there in exile. Could the hearers of Jeremiah’s oracles and Jeremiah’s prophecies perceive that this was not the end of things? Could they open their minds and hearts and especially their hopes to a place where God was bringing about something new for them? Could they?
Could we? Could we do that this Advent? The culture wants to make this time before Christmas only a feel-good time. It wants this time to be a time where we decorate and tie things up nice with great big red bows and look past all the suffering and hurt and injustice in the world.
Such is not Advent—Advent invites something else. It invites us to see beyond. It invites us to see a place—not a pie in the sky by and by—but it invites us to see a place where even here and on this soil all is utterly changed by the alternative future that God offers and is bringing about.
Advent is the season where we are to do a kind of seeing that involves imagination. We are to imagine a future that is removed from our current circumstances—it is a promised future that seems so removed from the reality of how things are now.
Then lean in—yes, lean into it. Do not be afraid to name the injustices and sufferings of this age. And, as we do that, as we name those things the lean in. Lean into God’s alternative future. Lean into a world that conducts its way based on love over greed. Lean into a place where peace is the motivation that connects humanity.
Dare to lean into God’s view of the world that can be—oh, it is a world that not only can be, but a world that will be. Imagine it. Lean into it. A flicker of starlight hope.