As the Christian Year begins, we prepare our hearts and lives for a new birth of the Savior into our lives and into our hurting world. The New York Times reports that there have been mass shootings (four or more people being killed or wounded) nearly two out of every three days in 2015. The latest? On the fourth day of Advent, a married couple killed 14 and wound 21 persons at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California (for persons with disabling conditions). This just days after another man killed three and wounded nine persons at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs – on Black Friday. The December 4, 2015 headline of the Daily News in New York City blasted: “God Isn’t Fixing This.” Now more than ever, we need a Savior. And we wonder how long we have to wait until Jesus intervenes.
In his book, Preaching and Reading the Lectionary, D. Wesley Allen, Jr. writes: “the advent of God-in-Christ… includes more than the past coming of Christ (Christmas). It also involves the present (the claim that God comes to us in our current lives) and the future (the eschatological [end times] claim that God is always before us.” The third (Year C) cycle in the Revised Common Lectionary focuses on Luke’s Gospel, and our Advent readings follow a path first through the “Little Apocalypse” in Luke 21, two weeks of focus on John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, and finally the story of Joseph and Mary as they prepare for Jesus’ birth. The Sunday after Christmas, we will gather around the only story in the Bible about Jesus’ youth – also a time of preparation.
Healing takes time and patience. Like the planting and growing time before harvest, many things are at work, which cannot be seen or appreciated apart from faith. So while the shoppers rush home with their “treasures” God invites us to wait upon the Lord and renew our strength this Advent Season. That kind of preparation takes time and a measure of faith – God’s gift to us. Allen tells us that Advent comes from to Latin words that invite the church to wait expectantly for God to come (vent) to (ad) us. During what many call the Christmas season, so many of us experience a let down when what we actually experience collapses under the weight of our unrealistic expectations. While we wait, though, we can marinate on the ways in which God is preparing us to receive Christ’s presence, redemption, and power in our lives. While we wait, we can meditate prayerfully on what we truly desire – not only to receive, but also to give.
- Nov. 29 Do You See? Our Redemption is Near Luke 21:25-36 (28)
- Dec. 6 Prepare the Way of the Lord Luke 3:1-6 (4)
- Dec. 13 The Smoke from a Distant Fire Luke 3:7-18 (8-9)
- Dec. 20 Happiness is Believing God’s Promises Luke 2:39-45 (45)
- Dec. 24 Good News of Great Joy! Luke 2:1-20 (10-11)
- Dec. 27 Finding Jesus – the Cure for Our Worry Luke 2:41-52 (49)
Next Worship Series: Epiphany: Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory (The Gospels Shed Light on Our Shining Savior) – January 3 – February 7, 2016.