Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 21:25-36

21:25 "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. 21:26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21:27 Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. 21:28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." 21:29 Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 21:30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 21:31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 21:32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 21:34 "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, 21:35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 21:36 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."

The Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to you O Christ!

The Definition of Advent is:
 To Come or To Arrive

At advent we think of Jesus who is coming, both as our lord returning victoriously in the sky and as our coming savior in the baby Jesus. He comes both to judge and to give us grace!

The Definition of Advent is: To Come or To Arrive

Whether we think of Christ as the Bethlehem Child or the Soon and Coming King robed in majesty and righteousness . . . Advent is a Season in which we are challenged to get ready for Christ's coming.

The idea of preparing for a coming king can entail a number of different thoughts and emotions. It can involve physical preparations as well as the interior cleansing of our selves. It is with the idea that Christ knows us from the inside out, that the season of Advent has historically been approached with a mind toward the Penitential realm of faith. If Jesus is Lord of our whole selves, then, most likely we have a lot of cleaning up to do–there are things we must repent from or take on a penitential attitude toward. Perhaps we cannot necessarily clean up all of who we have been, because some of those things are done and in some ways over with.

However, if it's with a human relationship, we might be able to offer an apology or at least make an attempt at reconciliation with someone we have hurt or wronged recently or in the distant past. In the spirit of penitential preparation for Christ's coming, there could be some practical things to do in order to improve who we have been being. I'm sure you can think of other areas of your life where you can (and ought to!) make amends between yourself and others. Anything you can do to improve on who you have been being in light of your relationships with others . . . is going to be a blessing that carries real meaning into the spirit of the Season of Preparation: Advent!

After all, if, by faith, we truly have a belief that Christ is coming as a King, and even if our faith is child-like, i.e., filled with the warm and fuzzies of the baby lying in the manger with all those pleasant animals standing around gloating over the baby Jesus and the cherub-like angels smiling with rosy cheeks and aluminum halos dangling overhead, yes even if Christmas has just been a pleasant holiday where we get off work or out of school a few days, THEN!, we are still called to make Ourselves Ready for this child King's appearance!

Another point of view on the coming of Christ and our subsequent need to prepare ourselves, can include that Jesus is coming on the clouds of glory, he is coming as Victorious Lord of All. He is coming in strength and in power to judge the deeds of men, women and nations. He is coming to see what we have done with the talents, resources and knowledge entrusted to us.

How does this make you feel? For most of us--we might be feeling a bit light headed at this thought. We have to confess we have been pretty poor stewards of the resources entrusted in our care, and not just the physical ones. Honestly, have you or have I utilized even a fraction of the learning we possess to benefit some other person-–to uplift someone else so that they might live a better life? Or improve their health or wage or welfare?

Most of us cannot honestly say we have been terribly mindful of what's at stake for future generations in light of our present actions and attitudes. Honestly, everyone who is eligible to vote, or if you can write a letter or if you have a voice to speak with . . . we are going to be accountable to the King and Judge–Jesus for what we did or did not do to improve life as we know it now. We need to constantly remind ourselves that our present comforts and even political allowances are creating a world and a culture that is far from anything that Jesus would have stood for.

Therefore, if Christ is coming in the clouds as a judge – woe is us!!

On the other hand, there is an entire other side to the great Day of the Lord, which is most often presented as a day of judgement . . . like I have been presenting it so far (as give above). As fearful as the whole subject has become in the church (mostly due to misinterpretation of the Bible and extra additives cleverly manufactured by exploitative preachers such as Hal Lindsey who has made millions from his fictional "Left Behind" series) the original Gospel writers had a mind to encourage the faithful followers of Jesus.

The Day of the Coming of the Lord is a day for Christians to hold there heads high. To look forward with confidence to the return of Jesus. He comes not to judge his children who live and move and find their very happiness in him, but he comes to call us by name. To praise us for our faith in spite of danger and persecution--as the early Christians experienced. We are also called to recognize that Christ comes to us as our Savior. In Him, God has already acted mercifully on our behalf. In fact for every baptized and professing Christian, we understand that Jesus is present with us today, tomorrow and forever and He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.

So, God's Love and Grace are already present among us, even as Christ has said, Fear Not, for I am with you even unto the end of the age. So as we continue on the journey of Advent, I would encourage you to listen for the voice of the Spirit, and prepare yourself for Jesus' coming by acting on a few things as I have suggested above.

All of us have relationships where we could make some repairs or corrections that should have been taken care of a long time ago back. In the end, you will not regret making amends with old relationships, you'll feel better about yourself. Confronting some things that should have been confronted long ago will go a long way toward making you a better person and the world a better place. It's a way to get yourself ready for Jesus as well as everyone else around you. Get ready to worship the baby and the King! Pray and ask God to help you get us all ready. Go out there and be a blessing!!

Happy Advent.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon