“Making Ourselves Ready for Christ’s Coming!”
Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36
On this First Sunday of Advent we are reminded that the gift of Christmas is not about a human initiated event. Advent reminds us that God is the prime mover; God is at the center of what happens on Christmas. We human beings are not at the center of the Christmas story. God is front and center.
The prophet Jeremiah says it this way: “The days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah….I will cause a righteous branch to spring up from David….and he will be called ‘The Lord is our righteousness’.”
The point is that Jesus’ coming is not an evolutionary development in the history of human religion. Jesus’ coming is about an action of God within human history. Jesus is not only the reason for the season, but Jesus is also a sign that God continues to be active within our history. Rather than a bystander, God is a living and active participant in the human experiment.
God is sovereign, not human freedom.
The issue now becomes how are we to respond to God’s action in human history?
Some respond by refusing to believe that God is active in human history.
Others respond by believing that God’s action in history is of no consequence.
Some voice the truth with their mouths, yet live as if God’s action requires no human response.
People of faith, however, respond by actively seeking to embrace the kingdom that Jesus came to usher into human life.
The point is that how we respond to God’s action in human history makes all the difference! The fact that God has made us in the image of God means that God gives us the freedom to believe, as well as the freedom not to believe. In God’s kingdom, no one is compelled to believe. On the way, however, God gives us signs of the truth that can only be summed up in the word ‘God!’
In Luke 21, Jesus is telling his disciples about the signs that God gives the world concerning the coming of the kingdom. Once again, God acts in a way to redeem creation, but creation has the freedom to turn the other way. The advice Jesus gives is to be on your guard and to remain alert, as the day of God’s action draws near.
The entire creation cries out the impending action of God. There are signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars. There are signs that are buried in the deep distress and brokenness that are seen in the world’s peoples.
As Jesus reminded his disciples earlier in his ministry, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
In the midst of the human waiting for the coming of the Son of Man, there will be those who fall away and faint from the follies of fear and uncertainty. But when the world least expects it, the Son of Man will come in a cloud of power and glory.
As people of faith sense the time is near, those with faith stand with heads held high in faith. With expectancy the faithful look for the second coming of the Messiah, because God’s activity in our history is near. Redemption is at hand!
Jesus now tells his disciples a parable, the parable of the fig tree: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When the trees begin to sprout, you know the summer is near.”
The point is that just as the sprouting trees are a sign that summer is not far away, so people of faith are not to be surprised when signs of Christ’s coming suggest that the coming kingdom is near at hand.
Jesus suggests that our response to these signs of God’s impending action are important. Now the question becomes, how are we to live in the light of what God is about to do?
The scripture counsels us to:
- Be on guard.
- To not allow our hearts to be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life.
- To be awake and alert.
- To pray for strength to escape all the temptations of the evil one.
- To stand in humble boldness before the Son of Man at the day of his coming.
Just as the people in the days when Jesus was born were to consider the signs of God’s impending activity, so we too are to act in wise ways and refrain from the foolishness that the world puts before us.
We are to be wise and ready, not foolish and filled with human fear.
Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. It’s not simply about giving or getting the best gift at Christmas. It’s about hearing the voice of the Spirit lead us in the righteous ways that the kingdom of all the heavens puts before us. It’s about opening our eyes and hearts to the ways of God’s Spirit at work in the world around us.
Advent is a time to make ready, because just as God was active in human history through the birth of the Messiah, so God will act in human history again through the Messiah’s second coming.
Our job, if we choose to accept it, is to make ourselves ready for the coming of Jesus Christ. The Advent/Christmas Season reminds us to be wise and ready. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the Jesus.
Thanks be to God!