Sermon – 11-29-20 – Advent I – Cycle B
Scriptures: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7 and 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
Sermon Title: “Am I Ready for the Second Coming of Christ?”
This year is so different from other years. Stores are not packed. We struggle with the masks. We shouldn’t eat in restaurants with anyone other than our housemates. We shall not have family get togethers because that is how this enemy spreads. How hard that is at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The enemy is real and the enemy is persistent. In years past there have been enemies of other kinds and even other dread disease enemies.
Well in these Advent Sundays we are supposed to be talking about the second coming of Christ not the Baby Christ. How hard is that? We yearn for this comforting scene of the little baby in a manger born to be our Savior. That is like the reward for working through these challenging scriptures of the end times.
Patty stands in her backyard – age 7. She looks at the stars for a long time. “Forever,” she says. “The stars are forever!” Only Patty could appreciate beautiful stars forever. Her family is not a happy family. She finds relief from the discord by slipping out the back door into the yard where quiet meets her, quiet and the moon and the stars. Every once in a while a star falls and streaks through the sky to land somewhere or to disintegrate before it gets there. These stars in the dark sky give Patty peace. She thinks they are God’s love shining just for her. She needs it so badly.
Chances are that these stars will give Patty comfort through her whole life, even after happiness has found her as the years slipped by. It is likely that the second coming will not happen during Patty’s lifetime. The 1st Century Christians thought Jesus would come again in their lifetimes. They planned their lives around that hope.
Talk about hope. What good was hope to the 1st Century Christians? Circumstances can shrivel our hope to the tiniest speck in our souls. But it is there! It needs some encouragement. Where can we find encouragement? Certainly not in our scriptures today. God is gone! Or so it seems to the people who are carrying a burden of sins. God has shut them out. They are pleading for God to burst from the heavens, causing stars to fall in a sunless and moonless sky. They are desperate for God to face themselves.
That is why in the Psalm we read responsively the Psalmist is pleading, “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.” I don’t feel that God is turning his back on me because I believe and feel that God is ever present with me. But my life has been good. If I were someone upon whom illness has pounced and not backed off, if I were someone who lost income during a dire time, I may wonder where God’s face is and why all seems dark around me.
This is when we hope for the second coming to happen now; when enemies will have no more power over us, when discord will become accord, when want will become plenty, when disease becomes powerless, when all bodies will be healthy and whole. That is what we hope the second coming will bring.
Every year around this time, we find ourselves at a fever pitch, rushing against time to prepare for the baby. Calm disappears, and we forget about God and think he has forgotten us. We are spending all this money. This year instead of crowding into stores, we are watching for the delivery person. What we should be doing is taking time to take account of ourselves. Is our house in order, meaning our spiritual house? Have we forgotten to ask God to forgive whatever happened? Are we checking how dark our surroundings have become? Do we yearn for the sunshine of God’s face smiling upon us? Are we filled with fear because of our enemy the COVID?
Do we go into our back yard away from traffic and really let the stars pour into our souls? Do we talk to God? Do we listen for God? The scriptures today indicate that people are so desperate for God’s face that they would welcome the stars crashing and the moon and sun disappearing just to see the light from God’s face. If we don’t have a quiet backyard, is there a park nearby or a ball field. Before the stars come crashing, let’s find peace and feel the hope growing within ourselves.
Paul can help us. In our 1 Corinthians reading, Paul encourages us with the reminder that Jesus Christ will strengthen us to the end, so that we may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can only forgive ourselves to a point. It is the mercy of Christ which cleanses us to sparkling white and fills us with hope until fear has no room, worry about little and big is gone. We can be calm and peaceful to welcome the baby as the baby expects. And if the second coming happens before the baby – what then? We will really be with the grown baby who is our Savior all day every day in the new kingdom. No enemies! No evil! No more sinning! Just love. Hope has been rewarded! Amen