FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT--12/2/12
READINGS: JEREMIAH 33:14-16; 1 THESSALONIANS 3:12-4:2; LUKE 21:25-28,34-36
I. Look! Up In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s...
A. Superman! Remember that from the TV show? People looking up to the heavens for some help from the Man of Steel. Down deep, we think of Christ’s Second Coming like that. It’s easy to think like this because Jesus says today that the Son of Man is "coming on a cloud with great power and glory."
B. But it’s not quite that simple. Bluntly speaking, you’ve got to know your clouds. Not cumulus, or cirrus, or nimbus clouds, but the clouds of the Bible. Because you see, clouds mean something more than weather in the Scriptures. Most times, they mean the presence of God. And for Christians, the cloud is another symbol of the Holy Spirit. Remember the Pillar of Cloud that led the Israelites in the desert? Remember the Cloud from which God’s voice speaks at the Transfiguration? For weather forecasters, a cloud heralds the approach of rain or weather change. In the Scriptures, the cloud tells of the approach of God.
C. And that’s what the Holy Spirit does--foretells the coming of God into our lives. So another way to look at what Christ is saying is that the presence of God the Holy Spirit, like the clouds on the wind, is breaking into the world to tell of Christ’s Second Coming.
D. Thinking about the Second Coming of Christ couldn’t be a better way to start Advent, for the Holy Spirit is the Revealer of Christ. And in our day and age, we are first going to get an inkling that Christ is coming into our lives when the Holy Spirit works within our hearts enabling us to recognize the Presence of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is God, the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit’s main task is to move us and motivate us to do the will of God. The Holy Spirit is God dwelling in us and we received him in Baptism and Confirmation. Throughout the ages, the Holy Spirit has revealed the Word of God, especially through prophets like Jeremiah whom we heard about today telling us that God is sending a Messiah. But oftentimes we don’t see or recognize the working of the Holy Spirit. Why?
E. Just like weather forecasters have to keep their eyes peeled for changes in clouds that will affect the weather, so we have to be watchful, ready and prepared to react to the signs of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Advent is a time to perfect our sight, to be on our guard, and to make ready our hearts so that whenever Christ comes again, whether in our happy Christmas celebrations or at the end of the world, we will be prepared. Let me say the main point again: The Holy Spirit reveals that Christ is coming; God the Holy Spirit it reveals this through the Scriptures and through signs in our life; so be watchful, ready and prepared for Christ is coming into our lives not only at the end of the world, but now, for Christmas!
II. Picture This
A. On a hill overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus weeps as he looks at one of the most beautiful cities of the world. His disciples ask why he is crying and he says, "Because it will all be destroyed--people, buildings, city walls--nothing will stand." His disciples ask why and Jesus says, "Because they will not listen to my voice. I offered them a way of peace and joy, but they would not walk the road I showed them. And so they sit amidst their gold and silver, their wealth and power and they think they hear the voice of God. But their eyes are distracted by the glint of the sun off their precious metals and jewels; their ears are dulled with self-righteousness, their bodies are degraded with indulgence. They are doomed in their own sin. But you my disciples are not doomed if you listen to what I say. There is a place for you in my Father’s Kingdom." The disciples shout for Christ to tell them what to do. And he tells them to not be distracted by worldly cares or degraded by drunkenness and lust.
B. Those words are carried to us by the Holy Spirit today--the Scriptures are one of the signs that Christ is coming, and they make sense. Ever wonder why the devil likes to use distractions like lust, drunkenness, wealth, and all the entertainment technology provides to suck souls into darkness? Is it because wonderful things like TV shows, video games, movies or sports are bad? Is it because sex and alcohol are evil? Is it because having a bit of wealth is a bad thing? No! In and of themselves those things are either good or at least neutral. But the powers of evil use things like these to distract us and lead us away from our real goals, from the things we really need to be doing. The devil wants me to ignore God. He doesn’t care whether I do that by murdering someone or playing video games all day. He’ll use anything to keep me from Christ. The biggest danger we face in our spiritual lives is losing our souls because our minds are too distracted, our souls are too dulled, our moral compass too degraded to recognize that Christ is coming to see us.
C. So what do we do? Hear the Scriptures and recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If you are touched with a bit of guilt over how much time you waste on TV, take it as a nudge from the Holy Spirit. If you are wondering whether you are focussed on the material side of Christmas too much, take it as a hint from the Holy Spirit. If you are beginning to think that maybe there are some behaviors in your life that keep you from God, perhaps it’s God the Holy Spirit saying, "Get back on track; I am coming again, soon."