by Thomas KortusJeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:1-9 1 Thes 3:9-13 Luke 21:25-36 Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Today’s readings draw our attention to the second coming of Jesus. We are in the midst of the second advent–our advent. We await Jesus’ coming in glory in the midst of a world steeped in chaos, distress, fear, violence, and immobilizing anxiety. Our call as Christ followers is to not react to the current state of our world with despair or distraction, but with intentional living, cultivating lives of attentiveness to God and to ourselves that we might be fully converted to Jesus. This advent season Jesus is calling you to ready yourself for his second coming.
Listen to his words:
“Straighten up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”
“Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life.”
“Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Does this sound like an intimidating task? It is, but we are not left on our own to fulfill it. Listen to the Spirit’s words in today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians:
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The Lord longs to work in you to prepare you for the day that is to come, “the day when Son of Man comes in a cloud with power and great glory.” However, the work of the Lord is not magic. He does not steamroll in and increase love and holiness in our lives against our will or unbeknownst to us as we go about our lives, business as usual. The Lord longs to work in our lives, but we must be aware of our need, allow him into our lives, and participate in what he longs to do in us. As I think about what this looks like and how God does this, I am drawn to how Jesus himself speaks about his active role role in our lives. Listen to Jesus’ words from the book of Revelation:
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
This Advent Jesus is knocking. He is calling. He longs to come in and have deeper fellowship with you. I invite you to stop. Quiet your life and your inner chatter and distraction. Listen to the voice of Jesus. Open up your life to him. Spend time in his presence. Be intentional about hearing Jesus’ discipline and participate in his preparation with zealous repentance.
Jesus is coming again and he is calling us to be ready.
But know that he is already here working in us by the power of his Spirit to prepare us for the day of his coming.
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.