Here is the cyber version of my homily for this 1st Sunday of Advent
As a deacon it is the responsibility of a servant to herald the King’s coming. And it is the responsibility of all believers, all servants of the King of Kings to herald Christ’s coming.
This first Sunday of Advent we see the familiar focus of our Liturgy sharing that message, Christ the King is Coming! The first weeks of this season especially seek to help us focus on the return of Christ as our readings proclaim.
But this message of the second coming of Jesus is fraught with challenges. Intense and dramatic teachings abound on our Lord’s return, especially amongst our Protestant brothers and sisters. Scoffers delight at the promise of Christ’s return yet often while embracing various popular concepts such as the Mayan calendar conflicting messages.
All these teachings are often set against the intense realities of the actual events of the times in which we live. Violence, disasters, moral turmoil all fit with the warnings shared by Christ Himself and His prophets. All this brings us to wonder what is happening? what is the follower of Christ to do? Is Jesus returning soon? How are we to live? These questions bring us to examine our Expectations, our Boxes our Paths.
Expectations ~ In our Bible readings this day we hear from Jeremiah the prophet, Paul the Apostle and Christ Himself all sharing expectations of the coming of Christ, Son of David, Son of man. The signs of the times, the prophetic beacons that God gives to help us prepare to stand before Him are diverse, many and mysterious. Perhaps it is due to their mystery and diverse expressions that God’s people have often spent lifetimes seeking to sort them all out. The early Christian’s of Paul’s times had absolute faith that Jesus would return in their lifetime. Yet, in the fullest sense, they were mistaken. The same dilemma were experienced by many Jews when Jesus ministered in His earthly ministry. The Messiah had come…yet He did not match THEIR expectations and was missed. These millenia later we would do well to realize they failed to know Him at His coming because their expectations of God were confined in a box too small for God.
Boxes ~ The Jews of Jesus’s time, the early Christians, and Christians hence have all struggled to fit their expectations of Christ’s coming into the boxes of our understanding. It may be our futile efforts to grasp the times of God and squeeze He who is beyond time into our finite schedules of when, how, where..He comes. that distract and confuse us. Or perhaps it may be our boxes of prayer by which we expect God to work. Or maybe it is simply the boxes of day to day cares of work, finances, health or family that prevent us from knowing His grace in ways unexpected. Perhaps it is simply the boxes of understanding that Christ will come again, yes, at the end of time or at the end of our individual time that makes us miss His coming in the stranger, neighbor, or loved one in need. It is as we allow Him, with hands nail-pierced, to free us from those distractions and burdens and to walk the path to fullness of His Presence.
Paths ~ Our Psalm today gives us prayerful insight into the solution to the limitations of our expectations and boxes. It is as we seek the pathS of the King we will come to meet Him at His coming. Our understanding is essential. Our expectations are crucial as we seek the Kingdom of God to come. But it is not solely an understanding of the mind it is a relationship of the soul with God that then enables our minds to understand and see beyond what we may be seen. It is vital to note that the Psalmist prays…”show me your pathS…All the pathS of the LORD are kindness and constancy.” We must allow God to lead us, to lead others, by the paths of His choosing. And St. Paul broadens our vision of the paths of God when those early Christians were admonished to abound in love for each other and FOR ALL by which we grow in the holiness God calls us to share. This brings us to one other point. Christ, the King is coming. Yes He is coming in the fullness of His glory. Yes, should He tarry, we will come stand before Him at the end of our time. But, if we listen and watch He will, as promised, come again in the poor, the neighbor, the co-worker that crosses our path.
Wherever, whenever God chooses, when the Son of Man comes, may we, His servants stand before Him alert and in love.