DAY FOUR of ADVENT

There is so much joy and excitement watching a little one at Christmas time.  Our 3-year old grandson is now at the age where he is not afraid to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what he hopes to get for Christmas – And, so this year he does and when asked, he tells Santa that he wants a “JETPACK.”    No doubt he watches a lot of Paw Patrol where the dogs who save the day, have JETPACKS on their back and they fly through the sky – Saving the world!

Advent is time of the year that we begin to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Christ Child.  Howeve, it is also a time of the year that our secular world overwhelms us with all the new-fangled toys – not just for children, but also for adults – IPads, IPhones, Tablets, and Apple Watches – that even track what you eat, when you eat it and how many calories you have burned by walking or running.  I have asked myself, “Do I really want to know that?”

But, I too find myself asking my husband, my children, and my mom – “What do you want for Christmas?”  It is the season of exchanging gifts, spending time together, coming up with ways to show our love for one another by giving gifts…And, while I love the secular side of Christmas as much as everyone else, this season of Advent even goes a little deeper…It is a time for me – us-  to reflect on what we are doing in the waiting before Jesus comes again…

And, this text today reflects just that…

Jesus gives the analogy of a man who leaves his household, expecting them and trusting them to take care of the things that they have been entrusted with – Each one has their job to do and the owner trusts them to do their job in his absence.  He tells the doorkeeper to keep watch for his return.  Why?  Because you are not going to know when the owner is going to return –  So, you better be doing what you are supposed to be doing or you could lose your job –

No doubt, the analogy of this story is that we are in charge of God’s Kingdom here on earth.  God has entrusted us with His church, each with our own job – our own gifts and talents to build the Kingdom until He returns again.  Except that we may not only lose our job, but we may lose out on our opportunity for our eternal life.

In any case, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the end times.  Just before this text, he tells them about the destruction of the Temple, how they will be persecuted – In fact, in Mark 13:13 – Jesus tells them, “You will be hated because of my name.”  He warns them to not let anyone lead them astray – there will be false prophets that will emerge, claiming that they are the Messiah.  There will be rumors of wars.  Nations against nations; kingdoms against kingdoms  Earthquakes in various places. Starvation.  After all the suffering, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky…But, Jesus says, this is just the birthing pangs of the end times…the worse is still to come…Jesus then says, “And I will come again with great power and glory and then his angels will gather his elect…”

The Disciples then ask:  And, how will we know this is about to happen?  Well, take your lesson from the fig tree:  When you see its branch become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near…You know then, Jesus says, that when you see these things taking place – all these horrible things and suffering, you know that He is near…right here at the very gates.

And, so you see…this is where I get hung up…All of these things are happening right now, right here…

We still have the sun and the moon that gives its light – but, I can’t help to wonder if we are in the birthing pains of the end times…I can’t get off my mind Matt Lauer, a prominent NBC News Reporter who was just fired for sexual misconduct.  The suffering in this country and in the world are beyond our comprehension – People who go off the deep end and killing others for their own agenda in concerts, schools, and even churches – The struggle for equality – not just women who struggle, but also the minorities and those who live on the fringes and margins of society.  Not to mention the issues with immigration and diseases that cause us to suffer beyond our own imaginations…

Jesus says, “When these things take place, I am near.”

I want to ask you…What do you want for Christmas if you could have anything you wanted?  What are your hopes and your dreams?  World Peace?  Diseases that are no longer fatal?  Equality and justice for all people?  Safety for our loved ones?  The hope that no one suffers?  Because I believe that is what Jesus is getting at here –

I believe that if Jesus was sitting here today, and we could ask Him for the things that are really on our heart, Jesus would say…”I’m right here.”   I know what you are feeling.  I know you are hurting.  I know this world is so messed up and full of evil and hate…Jesus says, “When these things take place, I am near.”

One of the things I used to love to do was to ask people, “Where have you seen God today?”  Sometimes the answers were so profound – other times it was something simple – like a sunrise or a sunset – things that we so often just take for granted.

Stay Awake, Be alert…is about today!  This is not only about in the future, but about right now – right here.  We are already in the end times.  We are already In the midst of the world’s brokenness, the suffering, and lost hope of things ever getting better here on earth…,

So, I pose the question to you?  What do you want for Christmas?

Because I think Jesus would want for you as His disciples, to experience the love and the joy of those around you – Enjoy all the gifts that He has given you – Know and believe in your heart that One day there will be a place where hate and evil do not exist.  Know and believe in your heart, that those who cannot walk, will walk; those who cannot see, will see; and those who are suffering, will no longer suffer…But, until then, in the meantime – we live and breathe in this place where there is suffering, hate, and chaos.

Jesus says, “When you see these things taking place, He is near.”  He is near!  Jesus Christ is in our midst!  It’s not somewhere in the future that we cannot comprehend…He is here – right now!  We are that generation that will experience the world in all its hurt and pain.

But, we have a promise!   Heaven and earth may pass away…But the promises and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ will never pass away.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

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