The following is a reflection on Mark 13:24-37, the Gospel Lesson appointed for November 27th, 2011, the First Sunday of Advent, Year B according to the New Revised Common Lectionary. On this site there is also
• a reflection on the Hebrew Bible Lesson for the same day, and.
• a version of the Prayers of the People for the same day.
Really, we’ve lost Advent. Society at large doesn’t even consider “Advent,” if society at large has even heard of it. Society at large is shopping, and wrapping, and decking.
And, quite frankly, they’ve been doing those things to the tune of “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” piped above the din of the mall since Halloween.
And, sadly, we have no room to gloat, because most of us pew-occupiers are right there them.
But, Advent isn’t really about preparing for Christmas. It’s about preparing for the coming of Christ. And, yes, in a few weeks Advent will shift to the coming of Christ in a manger in Bethlehem, but Advent always begins with preparing and waiting for Christ to come again.
And, just as the first coming was an event of cosmic proportion, so will the second coming be. Just as the first coming was heralded by a star, when Christ comes again the stars won’t travel, so much as they will fall.
The sun and moon will darken.
And the angels will come to gather Christ’s own into the Kingdom.
Our role in the whole thing isn’t to shop. Or deck. Or wrap.
It’s to be alert.
We’re to be anticipating this coming—this Advent.
Now, the generation of Christians who lived through the crucifixion and resurrection were waiting on baited breath. And, the Christians who lived in their wake did the same. They assumed Christ was coming any minute.
It’s easy to see in the Gospels that the urgency with which the early, New Testament church experienced intensely at first, withered over time.
Of course, Christ didn’t come as expected. They moved on to other concerns.
But, being alert doesn’t mean that we have to be disappointed each night we learn that the stars are in the exact same place we saw them the night before.
Being alert is a spiritual posture. When we’re alert we see things, and notice things that we wouldn’t notice otherwise. If we live spiritually alert, waiting for Christ to come, how much better might we see him when we enters our room? When he feeds us in the Eucharist. When he shuffles by us on the street.
We’re meant to be Advent people. Waiting. Watching.
This year while we all shop, and wrap, and deck…let us be alert. Watching the stars, and the sun, and the moon. Waiting for Christ to come around the corner, and be manifest in ways we wouldn’t even dare to imagine.