Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Come, Lord Jesus!

  I love advent.  In fact, I actually wished it lasted longer than four weeks (this year, any way).  I love all the decorations- the Advent wreaths, the Christmas lights that have begun to pop up around town, and the candles in the windows.  I love the traditional Advent hymns- you know "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and "Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus."  I love to watch the movies I can only watch at this time of year- the old Alistair Sim "A Christmas Carol" and (my personal all-time fave) "A Charlie Brown Christmas." 
   Advent comes from the Latin advenio (adventus).  Adventus is translated to come.  In this holy season, thousands of Christians around the world are preparing to remember the coming, the birth, of the Babe of Bethlehem.  We believe that is not just any other baby, although all babies are special.  This Baby, however, is not only fully human; He is also God in the flesh, fully divine.
  We also believe that some day, Jesus will come again.  No one knows the day or the hour.  Those of us who have been following the lectionary have been hearing a lot about that this past month.  When Jesus comes again, He will complete the coming of God's kingdom; a work that has been in progress since Jesus first breathed and come to be with us.  
  In the mean time, you and I are to be ready.  We must be prepared lest the Second Coming take us unawares.  So as we prepare our homes and prepare for Christmas celebrations, let us also take time each day to prepare our hearts to welcome not only the Babe of Bethlehem but also our Lord and Savior when He returns in glorious majesty. 

** Have a family Advent wreath and devotional time.
** Read some of the prophesies concerning the One who is coming.
** Read through Matthew and Luke's birth narratives.
** Throw Jesus a baby shower and donate the items to mothers in need.
** Watch some of those classic holiday movies.
** Read some of the old classic stories-- Gift of the Magi and A Christmas Carol for example.  These are even better when read aloud as a family.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Be prepared

  Matthew 25 is part of what is often called the "little apocalypse."  That is to say the teachings in this section of Matthew (chapters 23-25) focus on the end times and the second coming of Jesus.  Every once in a while some one comes along and declares he or she knows the exact date when the world as we know comes to an end.  Our Lord, however, proclaims something different: the time and the day are known to God alone.  So those who claim to be followers of Jesus must always be alert and ready.  "Be prepared!" as the Scouts have it.
  Jesus' first parable in Matthew 25 tells of this coming with the joy and anticipation of a wedding.  Ten bridesmaids are sent out to wait for the Groom.  They wait and they wait and they wait some more.  Still He does not appear.  Five of the bridesmaids planned ahead and brought extra oil for their lamps just in case.  The other five did not anticipate a long wait.  Their lamps run out of oil while they are waiting and they must go find more.
  While the five are gone, the Groom comes at long last. The festivities begin as the Groom processes to the home of His beloved.  In accordance with the customs of the time, the Groom's entrance starts a week-long wedding celebration.  When the five Bridesmaids return, the door has already been closed.  They find themselves shut out from the joyous celebration that is the Kingdom of Heaven.
  Jesus' teaching is clear, you and I must be ever watchful.  We must also be adequately prepared.  No one can lend us faith, just as the five bridesmaids who were ready could not give oil to the other five.  Each of us must have our own close, personal relationship with God.