Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to what you say,
To see what you do.
By your Spirit help me
To hear your voice
To see you
First Sunday of Advent
We stand at the gateway of the church year. Before we enter, the lectionary guide prompts us to hear the wake-up call coming from the front desk of the heavenly inn, God’s abode.
. . . you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than we became believers; let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11,12,14
If we are not sure we want to listen the apostle Paul calling from the front desk, the lectionary guide insists that we listen to the wake-up call coming from Jesus:
. . . about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels
of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah
were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. . . . understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake . . . Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
The season of Advent is about waking up, and being ready: being ready and awake as we wait for the Coming. There is a duality about this season: even as we enter the gospel narrative and live with the people whom God has called to tend the birthing of Jesus into our world, so we are also called to stay awake as we wait for the second coming of Jesus.
To make sure these persons were fully awake, God sent the Gabriel and other angels–in person. This was no call from the front desk; God make sure that staff members from the heavenly inn came, showing up as Zechariah prays in the temple, knocking at the kitchen door and showing up in Mary’s home in Nazareth, appearing to Joseph in a dream as he is making a decision to put Mary way, and the unborn Christ alongside. They come en mass to shock the shepherds into wakefulness, and to offer them guidance as to where to go to worship this new born Savior. They warn the wise men in a dream to take an alternate road home, and they take up vigil in Joseph’s dreams in the years of Jesus’ early childhood.
So how do we stay awake, as we wait for Jesus’ coming?
This will depend largely on whom we listen to. There are a multitude of voices demanding our attention at this season of the year: Buy me! You must have this! Look at this recipe! Eat! What drink will be on your table! Decorate! We have just the gifts for your children, your spouse, your friends! . . . . . Only so many shopping days until Christmas!
And if we become conscious and awake when we hear the word Christmas, we are lulled back to sleep by the invitation to enjoy the Holiday Season.
To stay awake, the lectionary readings invite us to cross the threshold, to enter into the narrative, to sit alongside the prophet Isaiah, to apostle Paul. We are called to experience the scriptures as a meeting place, where a lively encounter can happen. We become awake!
This will mean laying something aside, in order to go through the doorway into this meeting place. The apostle Paul gives us some guidance here about what lulls us into passivity and soul-sleep. He also shows us that we need a kind of protective armor, in order to be fully awake. If we are not sure what this protective armor is, he tells us:
. . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we enter into the gospel narratives in this Advent season, we will be meeting up with persons who, in their every-day life and work, were asked by God to lay aside the common habits of daily reality, and to be hospitable to the invasion of God’s Great Reality: Jesus coming among us. God chose unlikely people: an elderly couple well past the age of child birthing, a young woman—engaged, but not married, a carpenter engaged to this young woman, wise sages from the far east, shepherds watching their sheep in the fields, an inn keeper who found a place in the stable for this couple about to give birth, and of course, the Roman governor who organized a tax census which brought the carpenter and his young wife to Bethlehem. This invasion, this call from the heavenly inn, woke them up to God’s new way of coming among us—in person, as a baby.
In the weeks to come, we will receive a number of calls from the heavenly front desk, invitations to enter into the scriptures, and discover a meeting place: God meeting us in a host of unexpected ways.
Hear the words of Jesus once again: “ . . . be ready. For the Son of Man is coming . . . “
Prayer before reading:
Help me to hear your call
Wake me up
Help me to wait
By your Spirit, may I hear
Help me to be awake for the visitation of your messengers,
And ready for how you come
As a baby
As our Savior.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
- 11/22 Monday: Matthew 24:36-44
- 11/23 Tuesday: Matthew 24:36-44
- 11/24 Wednesday: Psalm 122
- 11/25 Thursday: Romans 13:11-14
- 11/26 Friday: Isaiah 2:1-5
- 11/27 Saturday: Matthew 24:36-44
- 11/28 Sunday: Matthew 24:36-44