Friday, 29 November 2013

Advent Sunday

Isaiah 2: 1-5 Romans 13: 11-14 Matthew 24: 36-44

For the Dr Who fans it has been an exciting few weeks. Last Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Dr Who. Of the more recent Dr Whos, I have liked David Tennant best: and it was Tennant’s Dr Who who came up with this description of time “People assume that time goes in a straight line, but actually it’s like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey..stuff."
Ok – you may not care about Dr Who at all – but as it’s Advent Sunday you’re forced to think about time.

We might have been told that Advent Sunday is about getting ready for Christmas: but if that’s all it is, why aren’t our readings a bit more Christmassy? If we are getting ready to celebrate the coming of Christ in a historical event from 2000 years ago – why are our readings looking not back, but forward?

On Advent Sunday we think about the coming of our God into the world in Jesus. And that means we think about time, because we simultaneously celebrate a past event – when Jesus came, a present event, that Jesus is here, and a future event, when Jesus will come.

We hear from Isaiah of a time when God’s place, God’s mountain, will be the highest and greatest in the world – when all people will be drawn to God and when there will be absolute peace – when swords will be hammered into ploughshares.
This was a wonderful promise for the people of God of the first Isaiah’s time:the kingdom of Israel has been split into two and both the kingdom of Israel, in the north and the kingdom of Judah, in the south were facing threats from neighbouring kingdoms. War was a fact of life for the people to whom Isaiah was prophesying, and they must have longed for the kind of peace, brought by God, that he promises.

The letter to the Romans looks forward to a time of salvation for all – when the day – the day of the Lord – will finally come and all will be light. Although the church at Rome knows they live in a time of darkness, when God’s light has not yet fully dawned, they are told to be ready, and told to put on the armour of light, to be children of light and followers of Christ, even in the darkness that surrounds them.

And Jesus point his followers to the future and warns them that they do not know when the end of time will come, but that it will come unexpectedly and suddenly.
Immediately following this teaching, Jesus tells the parables of the wise & foolish virgins, and of the sheep and the goats – stories of being ready, and of being judged at the end of time.

Time may or may not be a ball of wobbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff – but the Bible teaches us that our God is not bound by time. The God who came in Jesus is the God who will come. God will come; life as we know it will change forever; there is nothing we can do except wait for God’s time.

But what are we meant to do with that promise?

It might sound a bit like an empty promise – ‘a time of great peace & salvation’ – you don’t see much sign of that happening anytime soon, do you? Maybe these prophets got it wrong – maybe God has given up on his world, after all.

Or maybe these promises make us feel that there really isn’t anything we can do except to wait, passively, for God to act.
I said that Advent was about God coming to us – so let’s wait & see what God is going to do.

But of course we are not waiting in a vacuum for God to act – we are approaching Christmas and remembering that God has come into the world.
God has come – we don’t need to search or seek or strive. Advent means God is coming to us – whether we like it or not.
And Jesus Christ came to announce that ‘ the kingdom of God is among you’ – we may not be able to see a world of perfect peace yet. But we can live as those who belong to the kingdom, because we know God is here already, that the reign of God has begun, even if God’s rule is not yet complete. The God who has come and will come keeps coming, is here – is the God of yesterday, today and forever.

So as we celebrate this communion meal today we celebrate the God who is the true Time Lord. 
We remember that Christ died for us – that the risen Christ is with us – and that Christ will come.
And this Advent and this Christmas reminds us to celebrate the love of God, through all time, that never ends.

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