Summary: What relevance does the Second Coming have to do with Advent - and what can we learn from it?
Old Romney 27-11-05
Story: On 13th September 1759, one of the most significant battles of the 18th Century was fought – the Battle of the Heights of Abraham.
The Heights of Abraham were (and still are) the cliffs above the St. Lawrence river in front of the strategic city of Quebec.
Louis, the Marquis de Montcalm - who was in charge of the French defenders of the city Quebec - felt secure because of the natural protection against a river side attack afforded by the Heights of Abraham.
And so he sent only a small detachment of French soldiers to watch the cliffs and repel anyone foolish enough to try and scale the Heights and attack
However, Wolfe found a route up the cliffs, that led to the top. When he got to the top, he found the French guard asleep and they were quickly overwhelmed.
And by dawn, Wolfe had four thousand eight hundred and twenty eight men on the top of the Heights of Abraham - west of the city.
And, of course the rest is history.
The French attacked Wolfe but grossly underestimated the force that he had led to the top and were soon in disarray.
Wolfe was mortally wounded leading his men into battle, as was Montcalm as he attempted to rally his troops.
The following day Quebec surrendered and with it, the French lost Canada
And that loss came about primarily because the French guard - at the top if the Heights of Abraham - were asleep on duty.
Had they been alert that day – Quebec would not have fallen.
And in our Gospel reading today, Jesus gives his church a similar warning - to be alert – to “keep watch” (Mk 13:35) against the enemy.
Our Gospel reading this morning starts half way through Mark Chapter 13.
And it isn’t easy to understand the full force of what Jesus is saying - unless we put the passage in the context of the whole of Mark 13.
Jesus then warns them about THE cataclysmic event, that would happen within a generation - The Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And Jesus warns his followers – not to stay and fight with misguided national loyalty – but to run.
With hindsight we know that the Temple was indeed destroyed in AD 70, at the end of a terrible four year siege of the city of Jerusalem.
The Romans tried to starve the Jews out and in the end, the inhabitants resorted to cannibalism.
A million Jews were killed and almost a hundred thousand were taken into captivity.
Story: The 3rd Century historian Eusebius records an interesting story.
Some Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem got out just before the siege and fled to Pella in Transjordan.
Why – the reason Eusebius gives is that they left in response to “an oracle given by revelation”.
Were they were heeding Jesus’ words as recorded in the first part of our Gospel reading today? I wonder.
In the second part of our Gospel reading today, Jesus speaks words that are particularly relevant to us today - to be alert for His Second Coming (Mk. 13-28-37)
But why you might ask do we have a Gospel reading on the First of Advent - that majors on the Second Coming of Christ.
What does the Second Coming have to do with Advent!!!
For popularly, Advent is a time when we look forward to the Birth of Jesus two thousand years ago in a stable in Bethlehem.
Well, not according to the forward to ASB lectionary. Advent is the time we look forward to Christ’s Second Coming.
As I reflected on the meaning of Advent, I found myself drawn to three thoughts about the Gospel passage.
The first is that
1. Jesus is coming again
Just as we prepare to remember Jesus’ first coming to this earth two thousand years ago as a baby in Bethlehem – so we can look forward to his Second Coming in glory - one day.
And that is something special to look forward to.
Jesus said, speaking about his Second Coming:
26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
The great Christian hope that HE WILL COME AGAIN.
And Jesus calls us to lead our lives around this great hope.
2. The second thought that came to me from our Gospel reading is that God still has work for us to do on earth.