First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm: Psalm 25:4-5; 8-9; 10 and 14
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12 - 4:2
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Today on this Sunday, we begin the season of Advent. The term "advent" connotes not only an arrival, but also that which is yet to come. The very word itself expresses a strange interpenetration of the present and the future, of what now exists and what is yet to come, of possession and expectation. So too, in the liturgy of Advent, the present and the future of Christian salvation are msteriously interwoven. The incarnation of the Word of God took place in the past and still continues with the present. Christ's return to judge all men and women and to complete his redeeming work is an event of the future, and yet he is constantly on the point of coming. The expectation of this return and the memorial of his entrance into the world are both celebrated in the liturgy.
What is it that we are going to do this Advent to make it different than any other season in the Church liturgical year? It is important to remember that Advent is not a penitential season like Lent is. Advent is a time of joyful preparation - a time to make room for the coming of the Lord. Luke's Gospel today gives us a glimpse of the end times. How ironic that last week - when the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King - that we again get a glimpse into the end times. It seems that in our lectionary cycles we open and close the liturgical year scriptures with heeds and warnings about being "ready" and "on alert."
One of my favorite lines from today's Gospel is in the second half of the Gospel. It reads, "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulation that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."
One of the things I have struggled with for over 10 years is the fact that I have terrible anxiety. I have been battling anxiety and depression for many years - and have many times turned to scripture to assist in "pulling me out." What are the things that we are anxious of in daily life? Is it money? finance? family concerns or worries? worries about relationships? our jobs and careers? We live in a world that has us going on a merry-go-round 24/7, either with electronics, social media (of which I am guilty) and with our own personal time. Society and culture demand more and more out of us each and every day. Maybe this time of Advent could be a season for us to slow down. Rest in the Lord. Actually, waste time with the Lord. Easier said that done, especially when TV, internet, radio, and media are telling you to get out there and 'shop till you drop.'
May this season of Advent be a time of true joy and readiness for you - as we prepare to greet the Lord Jesus.
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
--Collect, First Sunday of Advent, Roman Missal (Third Edition)