There is a line that has been running through my head as we get ready for a new liturgical year and for the seasons of Advent and Christmas: “Hope: does not weigh the heart down.” And that is an interesting thought when so much of the Gospel this week is about the end of things, judgment and so on. The Church is liturgy this time of year likes to focus on hope, joy peace and love. We do this because of how the world is these days. All we would need is a sign in the wider creation and we would know for certain that the end of things, of this life was near. But I have to doubt whether we would get ready for Jesus to come and appear to us. Would we be ready or would we be like it was the first time, where we were not so willing to make room for him?
So often I hear something like, “What is this world coming to?” we are able to put robots that drill into the planet’s surface on Mars and send astronauts to Russia and then onto the International Space Station but seem to be unable to handle so many other things. Situations like Brexit, bombings in the Middle East, the shutting down of the GM Plant in Oshawa, dealing with the economic downtown in the oil and gas industry and the loss of 120,000 jobs, or dealing with the migrants at the US-Mexican Border. How can we think about hope when the world around us is so hopeless? How can any of the things I have just listed, become good news for us and the community around us?
It is because of what Jesus asks us to do in the Gospel (Luke 21.25-36) this week. Jesus asks us to stand up and look up so that we can concentrate on seeing him and his coming. We love to celebrate the baby in the manger but that is not the advent that we are looking for. Jesus has already come that way. He is coming again on the clouds with his angels and he is coming to judge the earth. Strong talk for an Anglican I realize, but that is what the Word teaches us.
I suspect that there are some reading this who will be fearful of that idea and that I believe that – except that Sunday by Sunday we confess that we are looking for him to come, to judge the living and the dead, physically and spiritually, in the Creed and in the Lord’s Prayer. We confess and pray that Jesus is coming again and that we are looking forward and rejoicing in his coming. Please also understand that I say this to you not because I want to throw a good and proper scare into you. I say it because I know that I shall be doubly judged – for what I have done with Christ and what I have taught you as a leader in the Church.
Standing up, looking up puts us in a good position to be able to reach up. God is already reaching out, reaching down and stretching out to you. All you need do is reach up. Looking up helps us to keep our eyes on Christ. Looking up and focusing on Christ keeps us from the temptation to think that we are God and acting like we are God. We need to stop playing like we are God. That is going to seem like and maybe even feel like death but then God is in the business of redemption and resurrection.
We rise to greet Christ and to draw him back here to be with us forever. We are in the time of preparation to make that happen. There will be joy in getting ready, peace in the waiting and love to undergird us in all that needs to happen. And hope will help us to rise.
Lift up your life and see the coming King. He comes soon. Maranatha!