Homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY &
All Saints, Taylorsville KY
November 30 & December 1, 2013
November 30 & December 1, 2013
Happy New Year! No, I have not lost my mind; the First Sunday of Advent is on the Church calendar as the first Sunday of the year. Just like the secular New Year, with all of its resolutions for the future, Advent is a season of promises, and likewise Advent is a time to reevaluate your expectations of reaching those promises. I cannot help but think of the Advent calendars, you know the ones with the little chocolates or toys. You would open the little door each day, and find a little treat, but the real excitement came with the realization that Christmas day was one day closer. It’s no wonder that this tradition came about; we do kind of the same thing in church. Who here can say that they do not look at the Advent candles and automatically do the mental math to answer the question: how long till Christmas? I know I do! Advent is a season of promises, most notably the promise of Christmas. Do we, however, rush quickly through the season of promises without appreciating the promise itself? C.S. Lewis, a prominent writer and Christian philosopher, wrote that:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.
This quote should surprise you! It was meant to be surprising when it was given for the first time more than 70 years ago. The world wants to play a devious trick. The world wants you to think that Christianity is all about giving things up and feeling guilty when you do not. Advent is here to remind us that while we are asked to be mindful of the things we do, we are also rewarded with great promises that go far beyond the other things that we think we would rather be doing. Advent is a season of promises and its promises are many!
Let’s take a moment and look through some of the promises we are given in today’s readings: the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain, all nations shall stream towards it, one nation shall not raise sword against another, our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed, the day is at hand, be prepared for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come. So many promises and all of these promises have as their core Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of all promises. These promises are huge, and imagine that these are just the promises in today’s readings – in the season of promises what more might Christ have in store for you, what more might be in store for us!?!
Keeping in mind the fact that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we would expect them to be answered; what promises in your life would you want God to fulfill this Advent season? Have you taken the advice of C.S. Lewis? Have you prayed big as he urges? You might pray for wisdom in dealing with things at work. You could pray for patience with your family and loved ones. You might pray for a greater desire for prayer. You could pray for the courage to stand up to that bully at school. I have a friend who recently told me about how she has been praying for the ability to work so as to please God, and not her boss. She is now more comfortable in her work, and more attached to a divine reason for her doing a good job, and beyond that she is also more productive and achieving even better than she had been when she was working more to please her supervisor.
These examples seem worldly, I know. They are, however, examples which reveal God’s desire to be involved in all aspects of our lives. If God desired to be a distant God, unconcerned and disconnected from our daily lives, that God would not have become man and lived, worked, and died as a man. Our Gospel for today says: so too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Advent is a season of promises. Are you willing to get out of the way so that this promise can be realized in your life as well?