1st Sunday of Advent
“And so the journey begins…”
“In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.” Isaiah 2
In the days before the coming of the Messiah, the Jews followed closely the Law of Moses set out in the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The Pharisees were meticulous in their adherence to the physical parts of the law, as we read in Matthew 23 but they overlooked the more important aspects of the law, justice, mercy and love. The prophets had come to remind the Jews of the need for these virtues. The prophets were killed for their words.
Those who were in power in these times did not want anyone rocking the boat. They had it good. All of Judea and points north looked to the Pharisees and scribes as the holiest of all the holy. They tithed on their income, publically prayed and fasted and made sure all those within an ears distance knew just how righteous they were. They had it great; but as Ezekiel warned the ‘shepherds’ of God’s people, “Woe to you, Shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves!”(Ezek 34:2) The time had come where God Himself would come to shepherd His flock and all who desired to know the truth would hear His voice and come to His mountain. There, the Good Shepherd would teach us the way to Heaven.
As the people, who were living in darkness and had just seen a great light, would travel to the Lord’s mountain, they would sing, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!” Seeking peace and finding Him, asking for truth and receiving Him, knocking on the Door and entering into Him.
“For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man; in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Matt 24 37-43
These words cannot be from our Lord. The Lord of Love, of compassion, of understanding and forgiveness. These words sound so foreboding. They evoke feelings of uneasiness and dread. Isn’t this faith supposed to enliven our hearts and fill us with joy? Isn’t this Advent season supposed to be about happiness and fun? Where does the church get off reading this to us on the first Sunday of the year?
I am sure many will feel this way today. I am sure they will feel it and many will close their hearts. That is why I am glad we can journey on the way to Bethlehem together. We can learn from each other. Our Lord is preparing us to receive Him when it comes to be our time. You see, we are pilgrims in this world. That does not mean the world is not good, because it is. It means that the world is not the ultimate word on our existence. There is something infinitely greater then this world and that is what our Lord calls us to see when He speaks in such words. “My children”, He says, “I love you and long to bring you to myself. So be prepared, for one day I will come to take you to myself. There forever shall we be together.” This message of hope is the central message of our faith. This is the light of the Christmas star we will follow, not only to Bethlehem but also beyond.
So here we go. The first step has been taken. Together we shall embark on a journey of discoveries. We are seeking the light of the world! What advice can we give each other as we embark on this arduous expedition? Let us heed the words of a fellow traveler, one who has trod his path before us:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13
Let us do just that. Let us follow the light of the Christmas star so we may in a real way, have that very fire, that very light ignited in our souls, so others may look to us to lead them to HIM.
Till next week…
May God be with you “On the Way to Bethlehem”…