December 3, 2017 First Sunday of Advent
You may have heard this story that goes something like this.
- Once there were children playing on the church playground and suddenly Jesus appeared and returned to the earth.
- Of course, the children are very excited and decided they had better go into the church office and tell the receptionist.
- She looked out the window, and of course, there was Jesus.
- She told the children, “we had better go and tell the director of religious education” So that’s what they did.
- After the director of religious education looked out the window, and saw that indeed, it was Jesus, she said,” we had better go and tell the parish administrator”.
- Same story, after the parish administrator looked out the window and, sure enough it was Jesus, they all went in to tell the pastor.
- The pastor stopped what he was doing rose from his chair and looked out the window.
- Sure enough, it was Jesus. So he turned and said to everyone, “go back to your desk, and look busy!”
That’s really not too far from what is happening in today’s Gospel.
Jesus tells a simple parable.
- A man goes on a journey and expects his servants to be prepared for his return.
- Not only is there a sense of preparation, but the master expects that they anticipate his arrival.
- The arrival could occur at any time depending on his business venture.
- He expects them to be watchful and prepared regardless of the time that he returns.
- Actually he tells them, “I could come back when you least expect it, so be ready.”
If you listen carefully, even though this is a rather short passage consisting of only a few verses, the word “watch” appears four times.
- “Watch” could mean “to look at”
- To look at in the sense that we look at a football game or we look at a wrestling match.
- However, it could also mean to look for in the sense of looking for a friend in a crowd or looking for a check to arrive in the mail.
- When you use the word “watch” in this sense, it has a sense of anticipation.
- In the gospel for today, Jesus uses this word “watch” in the second meaning.
- He means to look for in the sense of anticipation.
- Course, in the gospel, the Man who takes a journey stands for Jesus while his servants stand for us.
- In other words, Jesus says watch and be vigilant, because we don’t know when he will return.
- There is both a sense of preparation and anticipation.
Time of the return
In the gospel, the man says he will come back at any time.
- He says he might even return in the evening, or midnight or in the morning.
- These are times when the servants are not expected to work.
- However, the man says they must be watchful and vigilant because perhaps he may even come at a time when they’re not working but when they are asleep.
The gospel reminds us that Jesus will come. He intends to come at a time that we may not expect or anticipate. That is the sense of the Gospel story.
- Advent is a time of encounter.
- Actually the word “advent “means “arrival or coming.”
- In the Gospel Jesus says that he will be present at a time when you least expect it.
- Last Sunday Jesus reminded us that “whatever we do to the least we do for him.”
- In the Gospel today he reminds us that he is still present in the world and we will see him in the most unexpected ways and in the most unexpected places.
- Jesus first coming was 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.
- His second coming will come at the end of the world.
- However, there is a third coming in between those two and that’s where we meet him daily in our lives.
Advent means a time to prepare for that coming as well, because it’s nearer to us than the others.
We have the shortest advent ever this year.
Actually Christmas is only three weeks from this weekend. However, the church gives us this sacred time leading up to Christmas is a time of encounter and preparation.
Here is a gospel challenge for you.
- So often when we think of Christmas we think of Christmas presents or Christmas gifts. This week I’m going to ask you to try to be Christmas presence.
- In other words, try to be present to the moment. When you’re doing something concentrate on what you’re doing. Don’t think about what you have to do next.
- Be present to the moment.
Additionally, be present to other people.
Sometimes it is so easy that when we are with somebody, we’re really not with them.
- I mean sometimes our mind is in another place or even worse than that we’re talking on our cell phone or maybe texting.
- This week, be present to those who are around you.
- Make a special effort to be present with them and to them in the moments that you are with them.
- Who knows? You might encounter Jesus in those moments as well.
Advent Time is a gift from God. Use it wisely
- The culture around us is in high gear for the Christmas moment.
- As a result, by the time Christmas day arrives, most people are absolutely tired of Christmas.
- Do you want it to be that way for you?
- Maybe this year you can make things different.
- When Christmas comes in a couple of weeks, maybe you can make it be a time of great joy as you begin your celebration of the birth of Christ, not end it!