The first Sunday in the church’s new year, the first Sunday of Advent, picks up where the last Sunday in the church’s calendar, Christ the King Sunday, left off – with anticipation of the coming of Christ Jesus.
"The days are surely coming," we hear from the prophet Jeremiah, "when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah." And from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians we hear, "may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."
Earlier this week our Cafe group was studying a passage that comes later in the same letter (1 Thess. 5) that concludes,
For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.
That was a comforting passage for us – the idea that in Christ Jesus God is coming for all of us, those of us who are "awake" to the reality of God’s advent in the world, and those of us who remain "asleep" to God’s motion in time and history.
So then, when we hear from the gospel of Luke this Sunday morning, "Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" we should hear it as an invitation, not a threat. In Christ Jesus, God is continually coming into the world for the purpose of healing, restoring and reconciling us to one another and to God. What a sight that will be (and already is) – not something to be missed!