Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44.
Advent is always an interesting season for me. It is a time when I try to get my head around the theme of the twofold coming.
1. We are preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ. It is traditionally a time of fasting and self-examination. We are reminded of the advent themes as we light the advent wreath each week. Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and finally, the Christ candle which is lit at midnight on Christmas Eve when the time of celebration begins.
2. Yet, at the same time we are looking forward to the completeness of the Reign of Christ when in the words of C.S. Lewis “all wrongs will be righted” (Narnia series)
I think these two aspects of advent can be summed up in one small phrase . . .
Christ is coming.
However, today I don’t want this phrase to stand alone I want to couple it with questions
Christ is coming . . . Will we recognize the Christ child?
Christ is coming . . . Are we prepared?
We have talked many times about finding God in all things and in all people.
I believe this is the message of advent. It is preparing our hearts and minds to recognise Christ wherever Christ is.
A brief look at the readings . . .
The Psalm and Isaiah both speak of peace. Isaiah is a tremendous passage, no more war, no more strife between nations. Yet, it doesn’t just happen. The message is actively seek peace, pray for peace, turn instruments of war into instruments of peace which encourage growth and new life. Peace will signify the presence of the Christ child. Seek peace in our homes, in our work, in those we meet. Peace will usher in the Reign of Christ.
On September 9, 1997 in Judiciary Square, Washington DC a crane lowered a four-ton sculpture to its permanent cement base. The sculpture is entitled "Guns into Plowshares". It is a 16-foot-high steel structure made from 3,000 handguns welded together to form the distinctive shape of a plough blade. Artist Esther Augsburger and her son, David worked for two and a half years with the Metro Police Department. They molded handguns that had been surrendered by local residents. (see photo below) Sadly, earlier this year the sculpture was removed and is seeking a new home.
Romans and Matthew both speak of preparation. Self examination, looking at our lives. This shouldn’t be done as a burden. It is not to depress us or see how inadequate we are. Self-examination should be done with excitement and anticipation. I think it is like when we have a party or guests for a meal or a weekend stay. We look around our home, we see what needs to be done to get ready. We put time and effort into the preparation. Then we are ready to greet our guests, to spend time with our guests and to enjoy our friends company. We need to be ready so we will recognise the Christ child. Enjoy the preparation!
Additionally, Romans and Matthew both convey a sense of urgency. Constantly, we hear or read of illnesses or accidents which remind us that life is short. Our time on earth is limited, let’s not waste it.
So as we journey through Advent 2010 let us look for the Christ child daily in all we do, in everyone we meet, in all the circumstances we encounter. Let us not be so busy and preoccupied that we miss the Christ Child.
Christ is coming . . .
Will you recognize the Christ child?