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Before-After

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Before-After  

Sunday  Advent 1, Year A

Matthew 24 : 36 - 44

November 28, 2010

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

·         How many of you are ready for Christmas?

o   Travel plans are finalized?

o   The dinner menu is ready?

o   You have all of your shopping done?

o   The wrapping of gifts is complete?

o   The decorating is finished?

§  or have you even started?

·         Well, what if I told you that this year Christmas is to be celebrated….today?  Are you ready?

·         Merry Christmas!!!

o   Wouldn’t it be kind of interesting if we didn’t know when exactly Christmas would happen?

o   Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to know that at any time from November to January, Christmas would happen?

§  You wake up one morning and you hear on the radio, you see it on the morning news, or you read it in the paper, Christmas Day is Today!

·         Would that change how you prepared for Christmas?

o   There would be no more last minute shopping trips to get those last few gifts.

o   All the food would have to be prepared and frozen or at least all the ingredients would have to be on hand to make sure Christmas dinner happened.

·         I think there would definitely be some serious changes to how we “do Christmas”.

o   Since we know exactly when Christmas is, we can wait until the last minute to buy our gifts.  Right?

o   Since we know when everyone will be showing up to celebrate, we can put off decorating until a couple of days before company arrives.  Right?

·         Yet, if we knew Christmas was close, but didn’t know exactly when it would be.

o   We would have to stay ready….

·         Imagine how it was for the people of Israel during the first Christmas.  They knew that the Messiah was coming, but did not have any idea when He would actually be arriving.

o   And so, even though the prophets of the Old Testament had warned them to keep watch for the Messiah,

o   Many grew tired of waiting, some grew doubtful and complacent.

§  Some gave up looking all together.

§  Some looked in the wrong places.

§  Some of them, like the Jews today, are still looking, waiting and wondering, because they did not recognize the Messiah when He DID come.

·         And they had missed Him altogether.

o   But, there were a few people who recognized the coming of the Messiah.

§   People like John the Baptist, the disciples, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds who were tending their flock by night and the wise men.

·         When we know exactly when things are going to happen, like Christmas Day, then we can take comfort in the fact that we can always put things off until later.

o   As long as we get it done before the deadline we will be okay.

·         But, if we don’t know exactly when things are going to happen, then we have to keep watch. 

o   We have to stay prepared. 

o   We have to always be ready. 

§  Because it could happen at any moment.

·         This is what Jesus is trying to get across to the people in our Gospel reading this morning. 

o   They had asked Him some questions about when the end would be.

o   And Jesus answers them by saying that no one but God the Father knows when it will be.

o   Therefore, we need to stay ready.  We need to keep watch.

§  At Jesus’ first Advent, that first Christmas day, there were many who were unprepared and who did not keep watch. 

·         They missed the Messiah.  Even though He walked among them.

§  When Jesus returns, which is the second Advent, no one will be able to miss Him and get away with it.

·         When Jesus comes again, that will be the end of this world. 

·         When Jesus comes again, there will not be a second chance.

·         Because, when Jesus comes again, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

o   Except for some, it will be too late.

o   This is why we, as God’s people, as His Church and messengers, we need to be prepared, stay alert and continue carrying out the work He has left to us.

§  We need to go and prepare others.

§  We need to prepare the way for Jesus’ return.

§  We need to share with the world, the great gift that we have.

·         The grace, mercy and forgiveness that Jesus’ won for us by His death and resurrection.

·         Unfortunately, some of us have grown content.

o   Some of us have abandoned the watch and have fallen asleep.

·         This is why Paul reminds us in our epistle reading:

o   11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:11-14).

·                     Though we know when Christmas is coming. We do not know when the Christ of Christmas will be coming again.  So, stay alert, carry out the kingdoms work, share with those who have not heard the good news of the Gospel.  After all, this is the best season for it, because Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Now may the peace that passes all understanding, guard  your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

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