Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sermon: December 2 (Advent 1)

-helps us wake up
-In our spiritual lives, we also need to be awakened

The Church has its own clock (the liturgical seasons)
Help us awaken our spiritual journey
Colors, music, candles, prayers – change

And our church today begins a new year: Purple (or Blue) – Advent
"the coming" – Coming of our Savior
First Advent - Birth of Jesus
Second Advent - The return of Jesus

Advent is our season that calls our spiritual lives to be awakened, to “cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” as our collect calls us to do. What are your works of darkness? Do you know them? Do you live with them and ignore them? Or do you wrestle with them night and day, only to succumb when the hour is growing late? You know what time it is. It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. And why is that? Why do we wake when the rest of the animal kingdom is bedding down for the winter? Storing up for a long winter’s nap? Why is it now that you and I are to wake from sleep?

There is something about Advent that makes us suddenly mindful. Perhaps it is the clear night skies with the gaze of the moon and stars on us. Perhaps it is the windswept clarity of early winter, when the trees are swept bare, and there is no sign of the lushness of summer to hide our works of darkness from ourselves and from one another.

St. Paul wants us to wake up, as we heard “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” In Advent, salvation is nearer to us. Nearer to us because we are preparing for the coming of the Christ child. We are preparing for the return of Christ. We are waking up. So that is why.

But how do we wake up when our bodies are telling us to hibernate with the best of them. The darkness beckons to us, lulls us into slumber, and for some of us, even depression. How do we do we fight all of that? How do we put on that armor of Light?

Jesus said, “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Jesus told us that he would come again, but he didn't give us a time, lay out a plan. He only told us to keep awake, be ready, he will come at an unexpected time. Like the expectation of a birth of a child, it is that waiting with anticipation not knowing the exact time…

How do we become ready?

There is a wonderful 17th Century prayer I found, the prayer says that as Christ came into the world to do good to all, that we too may thus prepare to meet him. The prayer reminds us that by doing what Jesus would want us to be doing -- loving one another, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor, we will be preparing to meet him. The prayer goes on to pray that we may be watchful at this time above all others, in avoiding every thing that can be injurious to our neighbors and in all things following the spirit of charity, being forward in bringing comfort and relief to all, as far as their circumstances shall require, and ours permit. And ends, Grant, O Lord that we may prepare to meet our redeemer.

If we are doing those things, we will be ready when he comes again in his glory and we will have put on the armor of light. In this holy time of Advent, we can renew our lives by waking up and remembering the gift that God gave to us so long ago in the birth of his son, and who invites us into a time of preparation to remember and rejoice at Christmas, and to prepare for Christ’s coming again among us. Amen.

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