Summary: A sermon for the 1st Sunday in Advent
First Sunday in Advent
""But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:36-44, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from our expectant Lord. Amen
Today marks a new beginning. No it is not New Year’s Eve as we await another calendar year. But it is a new beginning, we begin a new church year with this first Sunday in Advent.
Advent has two themes connected with it.
The first is looking forward to the coming of Christ at the end of time.
And the second is looking forward to the coming of Christ as the babe born in the manger on the first Christmas.
In our gospel lesson Jesus is talking about the second coming of Christ. He speaks about one person will be taken another left. Some people especially in the Evangelical churches call this the rapture. There has been books written on this subject, movies made, and the Evangelical churches believing the time is right for His coming.
Matthew clearly tells us that even Jesus or the angels will not know when the second coming will happen, only God.
I don’t know when the second coming of Christ will happen and if just the chosen few as the Evangelicals believe will only go to heaven, but I do believe about this text and its purpose for our lives is we are to be ready.
So, I don’t want to get caught up in all the second guessing about who will be taken or who won’t. What I think is important is the message of Advent, we are to be ready, ready for the second coming and ready for the babe born in the manger.
How do we get ready.
Well, I think it goes something like this.
I want to tell you something about my life which will lead us to think about being ready.
When I was walking, I enjoyed working in the garden. I would get all hot and sweaty from pulling weeds and hoeing the garden. The work felt good.
But it also felt good to get cleaned up afterwards.
Nothing makes me feel better than to come in after a long day other of hard work, in the garden then peeling off those dirty clothes, take a refreshing shower, and then put on some clean clothing.
How absurd it would be to put on those same old dirty clothes again!
And that is what Jesus is talking about for the season of Advent. We are to clean up our lives, to take off the dirty clothes and put on the new ones of grace.
Advent is a time of preparation and the one preparation we can do is repentance. Take off the dirty old self and put on the clean new self. Luther talks about this as he tells us to drown our old self daily in the waters of our Baptism and then to rise up again as a new, forgiven person living in the grace of God.
We are to be ready for the coming of Christ through our act of repentance. We acknowledge before God that we are in need of His grace through Christ, then we are symbolically drown in the waters of Baptism and raised up to a new life.
Repentance does not just happen once, but it is a daily occurrence for us. And because of this occurrence, God will see not our dirty old self, but a clean as snow white self because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.
God will recognize us because he made us clean through Jesus’ sacrifice.
It is like the little girl in the following:
Ian Macpherson tells a story about a little girl who was on a train to London shortly after the Second World War. She had been evacuated from the city during the air raids and had not seen her mother for a long time. She was excited about meeting her mother on arrival at the station.