First Sunday of Advent (A), December 1, 2013, Park City
We've Been Expecting You!
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalms 122:1-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
In today's Gospel Lesson Jesus instructed his disciples to live in the spirit of high expectation: Be alert! Get ready! Be prepared to receive your Lord, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Expect the unexpected!
Not long ago, the newswires carried the story of a preacher who died suddenly of a heart attack. At 90 years of age, the news of his death was not shockingly unexpected. What was unexpected was WHERE he died. A very good and committed leader, the pastor, who had preached throughout the U.S. and in 50 different countries during his lifetime died in the pulpit.
As we reflect on his story, we might very well conclude that at 90 years-of-age this preacher must have prepared his people for the day when he could no longer lead them.
We can imagine him telling his people to remain in constant touch with the reality that God is in charge. We can imagine him telling his people to always remain in a spirit of hopeful expectation of Jesus’ coming.
"Stay awake," Jesus commands, and you will see clearly that the watchful, loving eyes of Divine Mercy and Forgiveness are upon you.
Stay awake, and you will see clearly how you can carry that Spirit of Love into a fearful world.
In a nineteenth century painting entitled “Hope,” the artist portrays a woman with bandaged eyes. She is unable to see ahead of herself. In her hands is a harp with broken strings, representing her shattered dreams and expectations. Still one string on the harp remains intact. It is the string of hope, which she plucks triumphantly, sending a beautiful melody floating out over that hostile world, and filling the dark night with bright-shining stars.
Over the years, the artist received many letters from persons who saw the painting and identified with the woman whose future seemed as dark as the night.
One woman said that at a time when her life had become unbearable, quite by chance she saw that wonderful painting. She said “It inspired me to strike the string of hope within my own soul -- and I was able to face the world and try again.”
Today, we begin the Advent Season of Hope.
Today is the day to shut down the turmoil in our anxious hearts, full of worry about the past and the future, and allow the blessed silence to awaken us to the Lord's presence in our lives.
A newspaper published an article which contrasted the living habits of two kinds of birds that fly over the southwestern desert: the vulture and the hummingbird...
All the vulture can see is rotting meat because that is all it looks for. But the hummingbird ignores the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, it looks for the tiny blossoms of the cactus flowers. It buzzes around until it finds the colorful blooms, hidden from view by the rocks. Each bird finds what it’s looking for.
What are we looking for? Better still, what are we finding? And what we are finding tells us what we are really looking for in life. Our expectations of life will determine, ultimately, our realization of life.
You come to Church regularly for years. Over-and-over again, you listen to the same old stories, sing the same old hymns, say the same old prayers, and your spirit becomes sleepy, and dull, and lifeless. But one day it happens! Suddenly, one Sunday, you experience a breakthrough. By some miracle you are visited by an angel of the Lord who whispers to your soul a message of hope, a message of faith: "God is the God of history; His Kingdom will come!"
Suddenly your lifeless spirit is transformed into a powerhouse of incredible faith and hope. Suddenly your sleepy spirit is interrupted by the wildest expectations of what the Lord has prepared for you. And suddenly, you can hear yourself saying from every fiber of your being, "Let go and let God! ... Let go and let God!"
Because God loves us so much, our time is a time of joyous expectation.
We should shout “Come, Lord Jesus, Come! We've been expecting you!
I received a very meaningful e-mail and I share it with you…
24 days before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
Why the Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,
not Happy Holiday!
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!