Preparing for Christmas - He's Coming ...Again!
24‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
Brenda Lee recorded a song at the age of 13 in 1958--Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Perhaps you’ve heard it a time or two in the last week. Here are some of the lyrics:
Rockin' Around the Christmas tree
At the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see
Every couple tries to stop
Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we'll have some pumpkin pie
And we'll do some caroling
You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear
Voices singing, let's be jolly
Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Have a happy holiday
Everyone dancin' merrily
In the new old-fashioned way.
In those few lines, Brenda sings of what Christmas is all about for a lot of people.
The traditional reading on the first Sunday of Advent is always about the second coming of Jesus. When you read Mark 13, you don’t see any reference to mistletoe, pumpkin pie, and surely, no sentimental feeling.
Jesus looks ahead to the time when he will come again. And when he comes again, he will finish what he started.
The dark shadows of horror in our world will one day be overcome by the light of Jesus Christ.
It was his way of telling his disciples days before he died, and his way of telling us, no matter how awful things are, God is still at work and he will one day complete that work.
Meanwhile, keep alert. Keep awake.
Jesus uses the image of a doorkeeper here in chapter 13. What is the main job of a doorkeeper when the master is away? To stay awake! A doorkeeper who falls asleep on his job won’t keep his job for long.
Like that doorkeeper, while we wait for our Master to return, we too keep alert, keep awake by being faithful to the calling Jesus has for us to love God and love our neighbor.
Someone has said, “The longing that things ought not to be as they are, and cannot be allowed to remain as they are,”[i] is the longing of Advent.
Have you ever had a longing that things ought not to be as they are, and cannot be allowed to remain as they are?
That’s Advent. We recognize in this season of the year that there are things in this world that ought not to be as they are, and cannot be allowed to remain as they are.
That’s why Jesus came the first time in Bethlehem, and that’s why he will one day come again when all will be as they ought to be.
Meanwhile, we keep alert, keep awake by working against whatever it is that ought not to be.
I know the lyrics of a Brenda Lee song are cheerier than the words of Mark.
But Brenda’s words, as fun as they are, won’t solve the brokenness of our world.
The hope we find in Mark’s words do. The one who came once will come again.
So, we keep alert, we keep awake.
We keep being faithful.
You can listen to this past Sunday's sermon here.
[i] from The Gospel According to Mark, by James Edwards