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Advent On Its Own Terms I

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SO WHAT: There are reasons why we are part of this community that Advent begins to answer for us.


WHAT IS ADVENT?

  • Before we start into the season of Advent, we might want to remind us a little more as to why we have this time in the year anyway
    • This season starts our liturgical year - so happy new year.
    • And we begin by thinking about anticipation - about the one who is to come
    • But, it's easy to wrap Advent solely into Christmas
      • When we do that, we tend to rush past it. We already know the outcome.
      • And yeah, we retell the Holy Week with some suspension of what comes on Easter Sunday
      • But here, we have to keep in mind that there's a two-fold gaze for us - an "already-but-not-yet" stare
        • Already: yes, to the Christ child that is to come.
        • But not yet: to where Christ will return.
          • Advent helps to hear the voices of prophets who had to anticipate an indeterminant time, so we can thrive in the second.
          • The prophets always carried a hope that in the end, things would work out right - an eschatological hope.
          • And so when we start the new liturgical year, we start there - at a hope that eventually, everything will be made right.
  • But every single Advent season starts with a variation of this theme. It rightfully begs a question - this is what we're showing up for? To hear about how bad things will be?
    • Every year, to start out, we get drawn into thinking about the world falling apart.
    • We have enough of that everywhere else, don't we? Why bring it here?
    • To answer that question, we probably need to ask why we're here at all.
  • Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why are you here? What causes you to come to church on Sunday?
    • Pastors might be afraid to ask that question for fear of the answer being "I don't know" and folks never come back
    • We might not want to answer the question because we ourselves don't know, or our answers don't quite seem up for the effort.
  • Advent on its own terms helps us to see that we're here because we are a supportive community of hope for what's coming, even if it's not here yet.
    • It's tempting for us as churches to move in two directions: we try to hide from everything going on in the world and create some kind of genteel neutrality that seems hopelessly shallow, or we spend all of our time constantly pushing against injustice, treating our faith as a Sisyphean boulder that will never reach its final destination.
    • v. 34 implores us to find a sober middle ground - don't get caught up in perpetual hangover-inducing drinking bouts, nor find yourself only buried in the worries of what's happening.
    • Jesus invites to take heart - that in the midst of difficult signs, Jesus is near.
    • This is the definition of our Christian hope - our eschatology. That there is resolve in the end. That the world need not to be driven through in stupor or hypnotically, but engaged with hopefully.
    • And these are not the only signs - Jeremiah, in the midst of utter and complete devastation, wrote these words as the people watched their family be carted away into slavery.
    • Jeremiah himself is in prison during a foreign invasion - but in the midst of all of that, we hear his vision of hope.
    • We hear Jesus, of course, but the people wouldn’t have heard Jesus. But they did see the temple restored. They were able to return home.
    • And then the temple was destroyed again - right when Luke was being written.
  • How do we live better into our Advent community?
    • Let our hearts drink a little
    • Be a little concerned about what's coming
    • And do it together.
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