Waiting expectanting for Emmanuel
Lord, May the words of my mouth and meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our strength and our redeemer – Amen
The days are surely coming, …
What does that mean to you?
The days are surely coming…
Today is of course the first Sunday in Advent, and therefore, here, in this place, we would say “it is Christmas” Christmas is coming in less than a month
The days are coming toward the time of the year when honour the incredible gift, in fragile packaging, that is the Baby Jesus
That is of course why this piece of scripture was chosen for today
It speaks of the pending season that we are all anticipating
It was also chosen for the clear prophetic message of the messiah
“A righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”(Jeremiah 33:15b-16)
However if you were to be walking along the streets of your neighborhood this time of the year, and made the statement “the days are surely coming”
You might get a frazzled, glazed-over look from one that is considering the mountain of preparations that go into this special time of the year, when many of us gather with family and friends
For some that idea of ‘the days coming’ might be the inevitable winter that is looming in the near future
You might be hoping that the gardens will weather the winter well or wondering on the right day to put the snow tires on
Last winter was an anomaly, the snow will fly and the days will be colder
So what was Jeremiah thinking about – when he was called by God to be His spokesmen and make the statement “The days are surely coming”!
- With the northern kingdom of Israel haven fallen to the Assyrians over a century ago.
- With the land of Judea (the southern kingdom) being taken over by the Babylonians,
- Many of people taken out of Jerusalem and forced into exile,
- With prophets for the last several generations and earlier prophecy from Jeremiah speaking of how the Jews had failed God in the covenantal relationship,
How they were being plucked up, broken down, overthrown, destroyed, punished for their sins against God,
That God was using the Babylonians, to punish them.
I am sure that Jeremiah and the 6th century B.C. Jews were thinking about their situation, seen a plainly and hopefully as possible,
That God would begin creating something new.
“The days are surely coming” would have been seen as a message of hope in a time of exile.
Which of these ways are we to understand the Jeremiah’s prophecy?
Do Jeremiah’s words speak to each of those situations, and others?
Is there a right way to understand the notion of the fore coming days?
“Yes” – all of the above … and many more situations
For the ancient Jews, it certainly meant a message of hope, in the face of deep despair
For the Christian 2600 years later, it certainly speaks an Advent message
It is true that just over 2000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived by a miraculous birth and then proceeded to teach the good news of God.
To re-right the ship, change the understanding - to a righteous understanding of the relationship that we are to have with God.
He taught – and healed – and challenged the established order
And He died – died for each one of us
Died for each sinful act of: thought, word or deed that we daily commit
And then the greatest of all miracles, He rose from the dead
Thus defeating death for evermore
And so we are a people of the promise… fulfilled
As is said in some Eucharistic prayers – who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world (BCP-prayer of consecration)
Christians – people of the promise fulfilled
And yet, it does end there does it?
Yes, Christ sacrifice never needs to be repeated
– However the story goes on
– Life goes on
Life, 2012 years ago, in so many ways began anew
And here is where we meet up with our gospel passage today
On first reading, it is a strange reading, it is deeply apocalyptic reading
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26)
These are the words of Jesus – they are weird yet compelling – odd yet fantastic
They tell of how God’s way invades the normal with a mystery – they tell of the impossibility of God
These are just prior to the passion narrative – the story leading up to the cross
We, who know the ending, might think that Jesus is prophesying His victory over death
But that is not what Jesus is doing
What Jesus is doing is going deeper in Hebrew prophecy,
In fact Jesus is declaring His second coming
We, Christians are people of the promise realized but we are also people of the promise to come
We live in the now and the not yet
There is a theologian named Oscar Cullman (who has) a vivid image, useful for understanding Advent, taken from World War II.
It is the image of the relationship between D-Day and V-Day
V-Day was the day of victory in the war.
For the cause of God, that day has not come. But D-Day has come.
The day of God's decisive battle with the forces of evil in human history — the day when the battle began with the advent of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now the structure of the Christian life is that we live between D-Day and V-Day
— Not in the fulfillment of victory, but in the assurance of victory because that is the meaning of the advent of Christ — the battle began back then and is on now.
Christians live in the expectation and enjoy the wholesome psychological advantages of knowing that we are fighting and working and living in a cause that is fated to prevail.
When we Christians proclaim the gospel, the good news of God – the good news of Jesus Christ
We can and should take great comfort in the fact that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light
That Jesus has achieved for us, what we could not do on our own
BUT we also live in the hope of the promise to come
The days are surely coming speaks not only of the righteous branch of David – of the celebration of our Messiah’s birth
It also speaks of the fact that Righteous branch will come ultimately and finally at the end of the ages
A Christian, properly understood – is perpetually an Advent person
Until our Lord comes again for the final time
We are people of the promise fulfilled and the promise to come
As people that exist in both plains – How are we to live our lives?
I think that easiest answer to that comes from our Lord’s prayer
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
We are to live our lives as a heavenly rehearsal
With the goal to: view, to visualize, to see, earth as it could be – as heaven
And to do!
If we believe the words of our Lord – the words that we say more than any others
If we are to have integrity as followers of Christ as Lord – we have a job to do
We have a role to play
It is not ours alone – but prayerfully walking with God
As advent people – pregnant with expectation – and partnered with God
One of the mysteries of raising roses, rosarians tell us, is the riddle of why some buds never get beyond the budding stage. A promising bud appears on the stem but never opens;
It fails to unfold into a beautiful and mature rose bloom.
You might say it is one of the mysteries of human life, as well.
Some lives never unfold beyond the budding stage. They start off well, but something mysterious within the person holds it in check and the mature person never develops.
This disappointment is analogous to Advent, too.
What we have on this first Sunday of Advent is a bud, a promise, a beginning of something that can enlarge and gradually unfold into the glory of Christmas.
For many this will happen, but for some it will not.
The mild stirrings of anticipation which "bud" at the start of Advent will die out, maybe because of the extraneous pressures of the season — the busyness, the demands, the loneliness.
They keep the bud in check and the blossom locked up.
This is not to say we must try harder...force the bud to open.
Rather, taking a lesson from the leaf bud on the tree,
We must merely let the spiritual forces have their way and not hold back the spirit of God which can and wants to work through our lives in this budding season.
God made us the invitation of the promise fulfilled 2000 years ago
And God declared that we are also to live transformed by that, working towards the promise yet to come
As we light the candles of Advent, we must acknowledge that we have some of the light but not all of the light.
If Advent is anything, it is a season of painful waiting in the world and not detached from the world;
A season of darkness before the light comes;
A season about a future that is not yet-
- About a redemption that is "drawing near"
It is a time to be alert –
- A time of praying that we will have the "strength to escape" that which is "coming upon the world"
That will cause us to "faint from fear and foreboding."
As we await “the days surely coming” (conclusion - read slowly)
We live in the whirlwind of Advent – of History, Mystery and Majesty
Of Christmas …Of yes, snow
As year-round Advent people
Trusting in the promise yet to come, because we know of the promise fulfilled
Consider how you can respond – now – today… To be God’s visible presence in this age
o To show the world,
o Your neighborhood,
o Your workplace,
o To your family and friends
o To be witnesses of God’s forgiveness,
§ Knowing that God will remember no more all that is ugly in you.
o To be a witness of the promises – fulfilled and still to come
o To be a witness of the truth of Christian Hope
o To be a witness of what it means to be an Advent people
Gracious and loving God, make us willing servants in your world. Help us to find the world enough in all we do. Help us to be in the spirit of Jeremiah, as we serve in your name and in the name of Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
 Illustration Sourcebank – Series I #0081 - BEGINNINGS, ADVENT— Carl Michalson, The Witness of Radical Faith, Abingdon Press, 1974
 Illustration Sourcebank – Series III # 2818, ADVENT, NATURE, CHRISTMAS
 http://day1.org/1609-advent_waiting_and_working_for_the_kingdom - The Rev. Dr. J. Barney Hawkins IV