Beginning with the End
As is the case in every cycle year the church calendar starts with a text referencing the end times. The text this year is Matthew 24: 36-44. It seems odd to start the Advent season with a text about the end of it all, or does it? By focusing on the end times at the start of the church calendar year, we are focusing our minds upon our preparation for the arrival of our Lord.
We must remember that Christmas, or better put, the Feast of the Incarnation, is a commemoration. We are not in Biblical times as were the characters in the Christmas story. We know how this story plays out and how it ends. It is an important commemoration as it allows us to celebrate the radically new thing that God has done through His Son, Jesus the Christ.
Yet, for us the real preparation is not for the Messiah’s first coming but His second coming, or at the least, our meeting with Jesus upon our death. So the focus is properly on our preparation in the here and now.
Advent = Arrival
The dictionary definition of Advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”. For Mary, Joseph and the rest of the gang this meant the birth of Jesus and the start of His earthly ministry. For us it is our preparation for our own earthly demise. We hold fast in the belief that Jesus is indeed coming again to consummate God’s creation in God’s own way. It is not likely that any given generation will be here to see that, but it is inevitable that we will die, step into eternity and arrive at the end times. So the text is pointing us to our own preparation.
This lesson is doing that by pointing out that none of us know when the end is coming, for either ourselves or the world in general. That we are so completely in the dark as to this end point is driven home by the fact that not even Jesus knows when this moment will arrive. The passage opens in Verse 36 with the stunning statement that “’But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’”. Everyone will go on about their lives in ignorance about this ending, even Jesus. He analogizes the end of it all by referencing a thief, who or course, will not announce his arrival but will instead just show up. The clear point is to live ready to die.
Prepare Your Heart
What then should we do to prepare? I think that the best thing we can do is to prepare out hearts. Trust that God’s word is true, that the resurrection is real, and that Jesus Christ is Lord. Respond to this awesome gift by doing the best we can in our lives and remember that when we fall short… God’s word is true, the resurrection is real, and Jesus Christ is Lord. We are baptized and beloved children of God and our sins are forgiven. God has placed within our hearts the faith that puts us right with our Father in Heaven. Prepare for the end by reminding yourself who you are and whom you serve. In that way you will be ready for the last day, the worlds and/or your own.
Advent is a time of preparation. Preparing to celebrate the incarnation of God’s Son in human form. A God who loves us so much that He sent His Son to live among us, as one of us; to experience all that we do and to show us how to live a fully human life. It is also a wonderful time to prepare our hearts for the time when we will leave this earth and go to the Father, by way of the Son for an eternity of indescribable joy. So, get ready by believing and obeying.
Praise Be to God