Summary: Advent is an important part of our church year. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday we emphasize the Hope we have in Christ Jesus.
The Hope in Advent – A Call to Attention!
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So, you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Today marks the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is that wonderful time of year that we as the church set aside time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ. Advent is not Christmas! Advent leads up to and anticipates the coming of Christmas.
According to Bing.com, the word advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” For the Christian world, Advent is the time we anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Advent is the four-week period leading up to or anticipating Christmas.
But Advent is so much more than just getting ourselves ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus into the world some 2000 years ago. Even more important than getting ready to celebrate that glorious birth, the season of Advent calls us to make sure we make ourselves ready for the second coming of Christ; ready for the commitment asked of us in following Christ and claiming Jesus as Lord! ….ready to live lives dedicated to bringing glory to God and advancing HIS kingdom in this world.
Folks, Advent, this time leading up to Christmas …..is a wonderful opportunity. Each week of Advent, we focus on a different blessing of our faith. This first Sunday in Advent is the Sunday of HOPE. …HOPE is found in the promise that Jesus is coming back!
But Advent comes every year, and we often let it slide by without really noticing it very much.
Yet this is a time when we need to prepare ourselves to receive Christ and not to just focus on gifts, food and social gatherings.
The beautiful decorations up here in our Church yard are great. They call our attention to the fact that this is a special time – a time of anticipation for which we must put forth special effort. It took special effort to make these decorations happen.
But, if decorations are all we do this Advent season, we will have missed the boat! The decorations are pretty to look at, but unless they inspire us to put forth some special effort to grow in our relationship with Almighty God during this Advent season, then they are really of little value in our lives.
Advent is a preparation for the coming of the Lord. …and more important than us celebrating His birth …is us preparing for His return!
In our scripture this morning, Jesus is telling his disciples that they need to get ready for his coming too. …not His birth, but His second coming! You see, Jesus was already there, talking to them, and preparing them for his second coming, telling His people that He will come again. …the thing is, we don’t know when. Even Jesus doesn’t know when.
Therefore, the Church sets aside a time every year to commemorate His first coming, and to prepare ourselves for the time of His return.
And the best way to prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus is to repent.
This time gives us an opportunity to look back at the year and turn away from those things that have led us away from God. …especially the times when we did not make the right choices or the times this year when we got distracted and turned our back on the Lord due to the pandemic.
This preparation further takes us to confess our sins and reconcile with the people we have hurt in the past year.
This repenting leads us to see the need to apologize for our bad behavior to everyone we have wronged. …seeing the need to apologize is the first step in coming to terms and grasping the need for change in our lives.