First Sunday Sabbath in Advent
Expectation: Immediate and to Come
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” *
*Advent means expectation or longing and we hear in the hymns and the readings in this season of the Church year how Israel longed and expected the Messiah. Even today in our time for some esoteric groups of Christians the notion of this occurring yet again and soon is a very real expectation. Many of these people like their ancestors in the House of Israel truly and sincerely long for the Messiah to return. It is a belief shared though understood differently by the Church Catholic. It is a statement of doctrine recited in all the Catholic Creeds. “Modernists” for want of a better term are generally amused and or embarrassed by it but bless them anything that they cannot place in a neat intellectual box does this anyway.
In today’s Gospel taken from the Gospel of Luke Jesus alludes to the Jewish War of the Roman Occupation with the resulting diaspora of the Jewish people but he also indicates that it is more and it is the “more” that makes this passage a wee bit confusing and seemingly contradictory. But apocalyptic commentary does precisely that and we do well to understand in that vein.
Jesus tells us to be aware that God is in the moment and movement of human kind even in the midst of the horrors and uncertainties that we see today and that we should not abandon our expectation or or longing for the Kingdom of Heaven.
*Collect and Readings taken from the Episcopal Lectionary. Commentary by the Rev Andrew Gentry, Vicar of the OnLine Parish of All Saints, an inclusive and welcoming parish of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, ecchurch.net
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