Now, this is the message:
This is the first Sunday of Advent, the days that lead up to Christmas. You can tell by the way the stores are decked out and getting decorated and how the homes are beginning to reflect the glories of the season. Advent means coming, and it is the time every year when we commemorate the coming of Christ at Christmas, the time when the baby is born in the manger.
It should be an occasion of joy, you would think. Yet here, instead of giving us stories about angels and glory and great joy with peace on earth, the lectionary gives us end time prophecy about end time coming. Here it is all about trials and tribulations, the darkened sun, the moon without light, the stars falling from the sky. But that is not the coming of the Lord that most of us are looking forward to right now, not most of us anyway. We were hoping for a little Christmas, or as the song says, we need a little Christmas.
I suppose to be fair not everyone finds advent a joyous time. Trouble is not a respecter of the seasons, that is for sure. Many people are alone at Christmas, and Christmas is a time when loneliness especially stings. You may know such a person. You might consider adopting such a person for the season.
Sickness also. It does not wait for the happy season to be over, and neither does the death of a loved one. You see, whether it is the epic trials and tribulations Jesus spoke of or the personal troubles and tragedies of everyday life, we are all in this together and looking for Christ and asking, “When will you get us out of this mess?”
We need a little Christmas, yes, and more. I understand the lectionary selection, because we also need a little reminder that even Christmas is not the end of the story. Christmas is only a glimpse of what is to come. Christ has died, Christ has risen, and in today’s passage we are reminded that Christ will come again. And when Christ comes it will be Christmas all over again – only this time it will be the real Christmas, and without end.
He will gather us together so we can be where he is. He is already there in the midst of all that joy and love – the place of no more pain and no more tears. He has gone ahead of us and is waiting for just the right time to reveal himself – to come in the clouds.
When will he get us out of this mess we call the world? Who can say? But there is one thing we can say, when the time comes we will find him already there. We will find him in the midst of us all, ready to bring us home to the place where the eternal lights dazzle, the fire is warm, the feast is prepared, the celebration of the eternal Christmas is in full swing.
So watch for it. He is already there ahead of us. Christmas is coming, and more. He was there with the apostles and the first believers who celebrated Christmas. He will be there in the days to come when Jesus himself will come in the clouds. He is here now in our midst. He will never leave us or forsake us. We simply need to watch, to prepare, to be ready when the call comes. Christmas is coming. That is the message of the season of Advent. Christmas is coming for us all.