The Scripture readings for this week are:
- Isaiah 65:17-23
- Revelation 21:1-4 (Responsive Reading)
- Mark 13:24-37
The Semon title is Be Not Afraid: A New World is Coming
Early Thoughts: Advent means waiting, but what are we waiting for? Is it just a baby born long ago or is there something else?
It seems a little bit strange. As the rest of the world ramps up into a frenzy of gift buying (although maybe not so much this year) and baking and decorating the church starts its season of preparation with a discussion of the end-times. No wonder people sometimes wonder if the church is in step with the world. (Of course a strong argument can be made that the church should not be in step with the world but that is a whole other area for discussion.)
In order to explain why we have this happen we need to ask a whole set of questions. What are we getting ready for? Is Christmas just about the story in Luke's gospel? What hope for the present and future does Christmas offer?
In terms of faith Advent and Christmas are not only about the story of a child in the manger. The power of Christmas is that it speaks of a birth here and now. When we celebrate the birth of Christ we are celebrating God breaking into our world again. The incarnation is not a once and for all event, God becomes incarnate in every human birth (to quote a favorite Advent hymn).
The Scripture passages talk about the coming of a new world, a new time. The new world is coming. The Promised Land is in sight. Every year at Advent we prepare for God to break into our world again, we prepare for the world to be changed.
Because let's be honest, if God being active in the world means anything it means that we will be changed. The world right now may seem chaotic and troubled. There may be many reasons to be afraid. But Advent and Christmas remind us to Be Not Afraid, a new world is coming