First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63:16-64:8 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Mark 13:32-37
This day is the beginning of a new church year. Time as always has moved swiftly on, and I am more and more aware of my own mortality. Death has shown its shadowy presence as loved ones have been claimed and tears have been shed. But death has also displayed its insistent and pervasive power in the wrong choices and infidelities of the days past. And I so often feel enveloped in the darkness of my own self-centeredness, and the web of callousness which permeates human relationships. When I am honest, I know how easily I am caught in that web, and death begins to hold sway over me.
That is why for the Church of Jesus Christ the new year is not marked by drunken and numbing merrymaking on December 31, but rather by joyful anticipation and urgent exhortation to stay awake and be watchful on the First Sunday of Advent. Something big is going to happen which is going to make everything different. The powerful grip of sin and death is going to be broken once and for all, and God is coming to be with us: "Emmanuel." The people of God say, "Amen!" This event has happened decisively in the history of the cosmos and happens over and over again in our lives by the power of the resurrection.