Advent, a Period of Preparation, Hope and Change

The malls are busy, telling you to buy more and more things that most likely will be exchanged the day after Christmas.  Music is blaring and Santa Clauses all over either scare children or tell them that if they were very good, they will get what they asked for.  Hardly, what the period of Advent is about.  Advent is the time where we prepare and wait for the birth of Jesus, the Christ, who changed our lives.

Advent is about preparation and becoming God bearers.  Yes, you and I have the opportunity to become an active part in Jesus’ birth.  Today’s candle represents hope.  Through this hope we can shed all of our “shoulds” that plague us so often as well as the “what ifs.”  We learn from the past and do not live in the past or in the future.  We live to the fullest in today.

The passage from Isaiah tells us that even in our darkest moments to never give up but to understand that there is always a vision of hope; and that “we can walk in the light of the Lord.” Although, many claim that today’s gospel is rather frightening, since Jesus uses the example of Noah and the many that were left behind and that the gospel tells us that this will happen again.  Of course, the people who believe in the rapture feel sure it will be them, who will be saved, while the rest of us are left behind.  I disagree as many of us will because God is a God of love and unlike us does not play favorites. The Gospel of Mark is very clear in stating that God expects us to be mindful of Jesus’ coming, to be prepared and watchful. In other words, we need to use this time of Advent for preparation and be ready to accept God’s gift of his son.

Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, who once lived in New York City, shared what he observed while riding in a subway.   A man, who had just got on, began to shout at his fellow passengers, forecasting doom to those who had not been baptized by the Holy Spirit.  He seemed very sure of himself as he quoted Scriptures and laid out step by step the vision of final judgment.  Tom was standing next to a young woman, who looked terrified, and close to tears. She asked him if this was true.  After all Tom wore clericals and therefore, he would know.  He noticed that she wore an engagement ring with perhaps the tiniest diamond he had ever seen. There they were two people of extreme opposites, one who lectured in the name of God with so much anger and hate that it was sure to turn people away from God.  And then there was this young woman starting a new life with someone who gave her what he could.  We see God in this woman’s tiny diamond, a symbol of hope, love and new beginnings.  This is what this gospel is saying to us on 1 Advent.  Be watchful and prepare for the coming of Jesus.

Loving God, We thank you for this special opportunity to prepare for the coming of your son.  We open our hearts so that we can become active participants in this birth that has changed the world.  Be with us, we pray, to offer ourselves to your service at a time of unrest and fear.  Help us to be disciples of love to all people. 
Amen.

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