December 1, 2019 is the first Sunday of the Advent Season in the church year. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Jesus is coming – His arrival is just around the corner – and that is what we focus on during the Advent season. The Advent season is four Sundays long, which is why we have the four Advent candles – each candle is lit as we progress through the Advent season, until we reach Christmas, when we celebrate Christ’s first arrival as a baby in Bethlehem.
Advent is also a time for looking ahead for the second coming of Christ. “Ready”! That is the key word our gospel lesson mentioned.
Our gospel lesson says very plainly “So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”.
And how do we get ready?
I. Daily Preparation
We are ready for His second coming by our daily preparation. Are you preparing for this day? Or, are you procrastinating? A spiritual procrastinator is someone who’s not ready. Someone who says, “Eventually I’ll get my act together spiritually. But not right now. I have too much going on.”
Most people are still unprepared for the arrival of Christ. What about you? We struggle with this too, don’t we? “We will grow in my spiritual life,” we say, “but we will grow later.” “We will pray”, we say, “but we will figure out how to do that later”.
Advent is a time of preparation. Martin Luther talked about this as he tells us to “drown our old self daily in the waters of our Baptism and then to rise up again as a new, forgiven person living in the grace of God.”
II. Daily Repentance
We are to be ready for the coming of Christ through our act of repentance. We acknowledge before God that we need His grace through Christ, then we are symbolically drowned in the waters of Baptism and raised up to a new life.
We are to be ready by daily repentance. Repentance is the act of turning away from our sins to live a new life in Christ. And so if the second coming does come, God will see us as in our new selves, cleansed by the blood of Christ. God will recognize us because He made us clean through Jesus’ sacrifice.
Daily we must repent because daily we sin. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we do not have to repent because we are good even for God. We are never good enough for God. We are sinful people who need the daily washing away of our sins.
C.S. Lewis said: “A Christian is not one who never goes wrong, but one who is enabled to repent and begin over again after each stumble—because of the inner working of Christ.”
III. Daily Watch
A large number of Christians today don’t believe that Jesus will come during their lifetime. A Christian is someone who is always preparing, always watchful, always ready for the moment everything stops. That doesn’t mean that we stop doing the things we do. Those religious cults that tell people to quit their jobs and sit up on a mountain and wait for the end of the world – they are way off. That’s not what Jesus means when he says to be ready.
Watching for Christ means prioritizing for Christ. We do all the things we normally do, but Jesus is number one. Our relationship with Him is not at the bottom of our list of priorities, but at the top. Worship with other Christians – at the top. Bible study with other Christians, and by myself – at the top. Prayer is not something we do for 5-10 seconds a day if we remember, but it becomes a priority. Our relationship with Jesus becomes number one in our lives – that’s what it means to be watchful, to be ready.
Advent is a time to refocus and regroup. Christ came as a baby and we celebrated. Christ will come again, of that we are assured. Christ comes into our midst today and that is where the living is today. And so, we begin Advent – as Edward Peterman puts it by “preparing for the revelation – that is, the full disclosure – of Jesus in the joy and sorrow, the laughter and the tears, the comedy and the tragedies of our daily lives here and now”. Therefore, Be Ready!!!
Pastor John Punni, II