Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The holy gospel according to St Mark 13:4-37

13:24 "But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 13:25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 13:26 Then they will see 'the son of man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. 13:27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

13:28 "From the fig tree learn its lesson: As soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 13:29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 13:30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 13:32 "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the father.

13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 13:34 it is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

13:35 Therefore, keep awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 13:36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 13:37 and what I say to you I say to all: keep awake." This is the gospel of the lord! Praise to you o Christ!


Active Waiting For Jesus

First Sunday of Advent:

Today as we enter into the advent season. Keep in mind, this is not the end of the year for the church . . . , this is just the beginning of the beginning!!

This is the time of the church year designed to awaken us--once again--for spiritual and physical renewal in our faith walk.

It's not a time to sit back and sleep off the Thanksgiving turkey . . . it's time to purge ourselves of complacency and luxury!!

Isaiah reminds us of this in today's lesson, it is a time for apocalyptic happenings: Like when the heavens will be ripped apart so that God can come down and join us in our human scene. In fact, this is Isaiah's prayer, "Come down Almighty God and break into our world! Like when fire is ignited under dry kindling and the fire flares up causing a pot to boil violently!! This is the prayer of the prophet–that God would shake up the world and spread his Spirit like the quickly blazing fire and the furiously boiling pot. Advent is God's time and God's presence -- come upon us.

But will we be ready for his coming??

How will you or I respond when the angels' trumpet blasts. When Christ our Lord returns as righteous Judge and Lord of all? Will we even understand what's happening? Will we cower, because he catches us at a moment when we're not ready?? Or will we be able to stand firmly on our feet with humility and dignity, and profess that we are only living and doing what he has taught us.

Being Ready and found Faithful is a challenging task Jesus puts to us. It is the call to be faithful even though he tarry for a millenia or more. Why hope Jesus will come when he's not come in over 2000 years? Let me ask the question in a different way. Why live the Christian life, in obedience to God, with chastity in our relationships or with hope in a world of despair and heartbreak? Why struggle against sin?? Why not just go blow it all...... and live riotously??

I say that we want to live for God because he came for us the first time. Life without God is life without hope–it will only lead to complete despair. Advent is a time to re-envigor our faith, renew our patience and know the God's coming is sure and near. To practice faithful waiting is to practice (or engage) our relationship with God.

In Jesus our Lord, God has shown that he loves us and that he desires to be in communion and conversation with us. When Jesus says we should wait expectantly for his return -- he is offering us an opportunity to ponder our response to his first love for us. "Won't you wait expectantly for me?" An attitude of Expectancy is characteristic of active waiting. Because it requires the one who waits to be alert and occupied.

Imagine Jesus appearing and finding us busy doing ministry here at Elias or finding you actively being faithful, doing the work of Christ wherever you are or wherever you go. Perhaps if the Lord had physically come last Tuesday when people were at our church to pick up the Thanksgiving baskets we put together for low income families–he might have congratulated us on our good deeds. It sure would be nice for Jesus to come when we're at our best or when we're being generous! Maybe if he came this morning while we were ministering with the children in our Sunday school-that would have been a good time! Or when we were saying Amen, thanks be to God when receiving the Holy Sacrament.

What will Jesus find if he comes as a guest to our church Supper next Saturday?? Will he be as comfortable in the kitchen as in the dining hall?? Will he enjoy the fellowship upstairs?? If Jesus calls us on the phone will he be encouraged as he speaks with you or me?? If Jesus receives an email . . . from any of us, will it be pleasing to read?? Just imagine Jesus standing anywhere in this church or in your living room observing the activity . . .

Would he interrupt our conversation to correct our language or the intent of our words? Would he clear his throat in the middle of your conversation or an argument ?

What do you think? I have a feeling, that he would just blend into the crowd . . . so long as we were all focused on serving him as we serve our guests and one another. However, if we are not serving with pure hearts, maybe his appearance would be as that boiling pot in Isaiah's words. He might be wrathful to us if we did not welcome him, as we welcome and treat one another . . .

Advent is about getting our hearts right before God comes. As many have said, the Lord's not going to come where hearts are not ready.

Curtis mayfield wrote:

People get ready, there's a train comin'
you don't need no baggage, you just get on board
all you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
you don't need no ticket you just thank the lord
People get ready, there's a train to jordan
picking up passengers coast to coast
faith is the key, open the doors and board them
there's hope for all among those loved the most
there ain't no room for the hopeless sinner whom would hurt all mankind just to save his own
have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
for there is no hiding place against the kingdoms throne
people get ready there's a train comin'
you don't need no baggage, just get on board
all you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
you don't need no ticket, just thank the lord.

Christ comes to meet with us as we are gladly serving and patiently waiting for him. As we are faithfully giving ourselves, & our prayers for his service and for his people. These are deeds that demonstrate faith and hope. This is the spirit of Advent.

Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon