Being Prepared for the Coming of the Lord

Advent Reflection Service

Dc. Larry Brockman


Christmas Cards, visits to Santa Claus, Christmas Cookies, Holiday Office Parties, Erecting the Christmas Tree, Putting up the Outside Lights, Buying everybody a gift, wrapping the gifts, cooking the Family celebration dinners, and lots more.  It’s all got to get done.  We’ve all got to do it.     

But wait a minute, where is Jesus in all this?  Well, that’s why we are here tonight-  to put Jesus back into Advent and Christmas.  Where do we begin?  Let’s first ask the question- Why do we do all this Christmas stuff?  Is it because it’s just part of the secular ritual of the season, is it because it’s what everybody does?  Or is there a better reason?  Well, how about this reason?  We do all this because of the joy we feel over the fact that God loved us so much he sent his only son into the world in human form- God incarnate as man, fully human and fully divine. 

Think about that- I mean really think about it.  For thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, people believed in some higher being or beings.  But, they were transcendent- that is, distant and separate from us, unapproachable.  There was no way we could relate directly to God.  And then, Jesus was born into the world.  Jesus was born as all of us are- in relative obscurity, in an ordinary way (and in his case, among poverty).  But, Jesus was born as both fully human and fully divine.  Here was the image of the one true God, no longer transcendent, but visible and available in a way that all of us could relate to- as one of us.  Gone was the transcendence that separated us from becoming close to God.  In other words, God became immanent to us- as openly available as any other person at the time.  Wow! What a great cause for joy.  Because now, after thousands of years of mystical conversations with a transcendent God, here was a manifestation of God we could touch and feel and relate to- a manifestation of God that had the same likes and dislikes, habits and needs, temptations, and limitations  as all of us. 

f that doesn’t bring joy, it should, because there is nothing else like it; no other earthly religion that guarantees it,  That God loved us so much that he showed himself as one of us.  And showed us that we could live a life that was pleasing to him even with all our limitations.    How do we know all this? 

Recognize first of all the promise- the promise in our first reading that a savior would be born,  and His name would be Immanuel- God Saves.  And then we were told where it would happen- in Bethlehem, in our second reading.  In our third reading, Paul unlocks for us the mystery of the mission of God-made–man.  The mission is to dwell among us, suffer and die by fulfilling the Father’s will, and finally, His resurrection and coming to power.  And how does God send his Son amongst us?  Well, in our fourth reading we see that Jesus was born of a woman.  A woman who said yes to the will of the Father- a woman who had dreams of a normal marriage and family, but was called to sacrifice herself for the will of her God.  And she said “yes”.  This is a challenge we all face.  The challenge to say yes to whatever the Father sends our way, for better or worse, richer or poorer, or sickness or health. 

And then, in our fifth reading, we hear the incredible story of Jesus birth told in the Gospel- the promise fulfilled; the God-made-man a reality,  But it happened in the most humble of circumstances, as humbling as any of the circumstances of the least amongst us- so real; so earthly; so bazaar. 

But wait, it gets better.  Because the promise of the messiah was made to the Jews.  And Mary and Joseph were Jews.  So, in our sixth reading, we see the promise extended- extended to lowly shepherds who were the first to give testimony to the miracle of the incarnation.  This is a symbol of the universal gift- to all nations, not just the Jews.  And then finally, we hear what was called the last Gospel in the old Tridentine Mass.  John gives us a theological summary of the meaning of it all.  The Word existed from the beginning with God the Father, and became man.  That defines clearly that Jesus is both God and man.  And so, during the four weeks in Advent, we wait in joyful expectation of the coming of our savior

But why four weeks; why so long?  Because our role is not so much waiting for the coming  as it is preparing for the coming.  You see, the coming of the Christ child is something that happened,  and so we can relive it, we can remember it.  And we can experience the joy.  Thank you Jesus   

But, that first coming, the birth of Jesus, is a reminder that He will come again.  Yes, there will be a second coming of Christ.  And that second coming requires preparation.  Because with that second coming is judgment.  The chronicle of John the Baptist’s activity in the readings during Advent is our clue.  Because his message is clear.  Repent and “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”.  As Jesus said in Sunday’s Gospel, that second coming can come at any time for any of us-  It will most likely come when we least expect it.  Are you ready? Are you satisfied with the way you are living your life?  Or is there something about the pattern of your life that needs a change? 

What is it that gnaws at you and says “the track I am on is just not right”.  It may be because you are too harried with job and responsibilities, always cutting corners to get as much into the agenda as possible; but never having enough time to do things the right way and to put things into the right priority; or perhaps you spend too much time absorbed in your own world, immersed in video games or football or telephone marathons with your friends.  These are addictions of a sort.  Then there are classical addictions: addictions to food or alcohol or drugs or pornography; and as a result of your preoccupation with your interests or your addictions, your work or family or household affairs suffer the consequences.  Or perhaps you have settled into a pattern of withdrawal, of non-involvement, where days and weeks go by and all of your activity revolves around yourself,. Perhaps its because of depression or older age, and it is so much easier to just not get involved, and so you don’t extend yourself by getting out and relating to others. 

These are all patterns that can harbor sin in a social context, because the life styles that foster them ignore the responsibility we have to participate fully in the world in the context that God has planned for us.  We need to reflect on our lives, and do what we can to steer them in the right direction.   

And so, I’m asking you to do something a little different this Advent.  Do enjoy the season- the Cookies and Tree and Santa, and gift giving and all of that.  But set aside some time each day, just a little time each day, to think about the direction your life is taking and the impact it has on others- your family, your work associates, and society as a whole.  What can you do differently that makes a difference.  If you are harried; how can you slow down and feel the pulse of God urging you in His direction.  If you are in a slump; how can you respond to little urges to get involved or to make a difference.  If you are addicted, how can you clean up your act. 

In any event, don’t let this Advent pass you by.  Get ready for Christ.  He is coming. 

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