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Readings and Sermon First Sunday of Advent – November 29, 2020

Prayer of the Day – Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading – Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm – Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Gospel – Mark 13:24-37

Sermon – In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The text for this First Sunday in Advent is taken from Mark 13:24-37. (Vs. 35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”)

It’s that time again. Today is the first Sunday in the Church year. The Advent theme is “watching and waiting.” When I was a child, my father used to yell up the staircase to the bedroom of my two brothers who were peacefully sleeping. My father would especially enjoy waking them up early in the morning and my brothers would detest hearing his words…”It’s that time again! Time to get up, it’s that time again.” If they didn’t get up, he would come back and joyfully repeat it until he heard the footsteps of the two sleepy heads.

There is plenty for people to be alert about lately, what with the pandemic we’re living through. In order to be prepared some people are having their “Last Will and Testament” made up by a lawyer. They have to be prepared in case the virus comes for them. It’s not a very pleasant though but its reality. Since I won’t be traveling to spend Christmas with family this year I have the presents wrapped and mailed out already. I don’t want to find myself at the Post Office in December in back of a long line. That’s a little bragging on my part, however, the Christmas cards are nowhere near being done.

Wake up and stay awake is what Jesus says in today’s gospel reading. Being awake and alert is to be a key feature of the Christian life. Another place in scripture it tells us to “be sober and be vigilant.” People who abuse alcohol and drugs aren’t living the life of preparing for Christ’s second coming in the proper way. Being drunk much of the time certainly isn’t being diligent in waiting for Jesus. You’ll not only be found asleep but you’ll be found passed out. We should live our lives and continue going to work and going to school as usual but live as though Christ were coming back at any time.

If we die before the second coming of Christ it doesn’t mean we’re waiting in limbo for thousands of years. When we die, the second coming will take as long as the “blink of an eye.” It’s like going to sleep and waking up. All of a sudden, it’s morning. There will be no waiting around.

For us who are living, life doesn’t stop. Like living in this pandemic, we don’t stop going to work or school. The world doesn’t stand still. That’s why there is a push to keep businesses open. We need a successful economy so we don’t want everything closing down. The country cannot close down. It’s nothing political, it’s simply fact. So also, we continue to live our lives as we wait the second coming.

Over the past 2,000 years, some Christians have taken upon themselves the job of trying to figure out when that return would be. But that’s a fruitless task. The signs that Jesus spoke about earlier in scripture like wars, natural disasters and persecutions have been pretty common occurrences. The coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on our world, but it is no more significant a sign than was the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the14th century or the Spanish flu 100 years ago.

Secondly, Jesus says, “neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father know the time of the end.” It is presumptuous to think that we can puzzle it out. So who are the watchers, and what are they to watch for? Those who study nature and human society can help us to discern what God is doing in world events. The clergy can warn us of the dangerous trends and help us point the way toward improving the state of the world. We should keep busy and live our lives perhaps warning others who need a little nudge to be a little “more ready.“ But have faith. Jesus didn’t die on the cross and rise from the dead just to come so we will have eternal life. And so on this first day in Advent we say “IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN.” Time to get up and time to be ready. In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bible verses to help combat fear and give us peace:

Psalm 56:3-4

Isaiah 35:3-4

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 60:1-2

Matthew 6:25-34

Matthew 14:25-33

Mark 4:35-41

Luke 8:22-25

John 14:27

Philippians 4:6-7

2 Timothy 1:7