What is going on here?
Supposed to be going ito Advent, into the Christmas season, looking forward to celebrating the Christ child in our midst, and yet, here we are, with Jesus, talking about the end of the world
Not only that, but this first Sunday of Advent is supposed to be on the them of hope, yet what Jesus is saying here is unsettling, disturbing, even a little scary.
What are we supposed to make of all of this?
The two Wisdoms
Straightforward wisdom of Proverb: A+B=C
World-weary wisdom of Ecclesiastes - Things don’t work out the way they should
Our Christmas story-telling usually resonates with the former rather than the latter
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Things have been going, wrong, now they will be set right
Todays readings seem to resonate with the latter
Times are tough, the future is unknown, and we cannot rely on things going the way we have planned.
The best we can do is live well in the midst.
It is hard to reconcile the two.
End of year C, start of Year A
The writers of the lectionary see this world-weary hope for the return of the King to be at the heart of the rhythm of the gospel.
The first disciples of Jesus, the first readers of the gospels were desperate for the return of Jesus in a way that we struggle to understand.
They lived under constant persecution.
They lived in fear for their lives.
Yet faith in Christ, joy in his coming, peace in his presence, love for his gospel, hope for his return gave their lives shape and meaning, and they yearned for his return.
That can be hard for us to full comprehend in our comfortable lives, that often align more closely with the wisdom of Proverbs, than the experience of Ecclesiastes.
We look aound our lives and we see that this hope, though born into our world, has yet to be fulfilled.
We look around our lives and we see as much brokenness as beauty
We look around our world and see that things are not as they should be.
We hope for things to work out the way that they should, and yet we experience the grief and loss of a world gone awry.
So, perhaps, the writers of the lectionary are trying to draw all o fthis to our attention.
To remind us, whose we are, and what, ultimately we hope for.
The ancient promise of God is this: I will be my God, and you will be my people, and I will dwell among you.
That promise put on flesh in the birth of Jesus.
That promise took on our burdens on the cross.
That promise created room for us to live in the resurrection of Christ.
How we live in the meantime matters.
Because, as we live in the way of Christ, as we live int eh way of the king, as we live in the love of God, the goodness of the kingdom breaks through into our everyday like sunlight breaking through the clouds.
We taste the goodness of God like cool, clear water when we are parched with thirst.
We experience creation in harmony with the will of the creator.
The promise of God will one day be fulfilled in the return of the King.
That day is not today.
That day most likely won’t be tomorrow.
But that day is the sum of our tomorrows.
So, as we head into this Advent season,
we are invited to hope in the birth of Jesus: Emmanuel, God with us.
We are invited to hope in the return of the King: The fulfilment of all that is meant to be
And we are invited to live in the hope the God’s future is breaking through into our present, as we live in God’s will and God’s way, as we open our hearts, our minds, our lives to the work of the Spirit, as we allow our very selves to be transformed by the love of God at work in our lives.
This is truly good news for us all.