This Sunday begins the Advent Season, with readings from scripture regarding the Second Advent. The theme for this Sunday will be preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The passage of scripture I will be sharing from is from Luke 21:25-36. It is funny and it isn't funny the various translations of the passage. Most all of them say something similar to the NIV, "there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea" (NIV). Then I checked the Message and I cracked up laughing, "it will seem like all hell has broken loose" (the Message). It isn't funny, but I couldn't help laughing. It sounds much more like the way my dad would have described something, than a theologian. What I get, is that there is some kind of advance warning system given to help people prepare for the Second Advent. Preparation isn't a last minute discipline, but a lifelong quest.
Last night I joined my wife on a romantic jaunt into the grocery store to pick up Thanksgiving groceries. We were nearly alone, in a huge store, and found among other things in the almost $200.00 worth of food was a turkey at .39 a lb. We already had a turkey, but that was inexpensive meat to keep on hand just in case we need it. Preparation can be and should be a positive experience, not one motivated by fear. My wife and I are positively excited as we prepare for the coming of our children. There will certainly be some last minute things to do, but the big items have been secured.
When I have heard the Luke passage preached by others, it always seemed to imply a fearful preparation for Christ's Second Coming, and so I never felt drawn to view positively the coming of the Lord. However and whatever will precede the coming of the Lord, there are hints in the passage that the community of God's people will be taken care of, and are instructed, to "stand tall with your heads high" (the Message). That is a positive description of how the community of God's people (the Church) is to be at the Second Coming. It is also the description of how most households will be on Christmas morning as they have all properly prepared for that glorious morning when we celebrate the first coming of Jesus. I am beginning to see, that the same positive anticipation that we all have early Christmas morning, is what the Luke passage is attempting for us to discipline ourselves into for the Second Coming of Jesus.
If you are interested in a positive message on the First Sunday of Advent, be more than welcomed at Vienna Assembly of God (viennaag.com for directions).
Lord, help me and others, be so prepared for your coming, that though "all hell has broken loose" that we can stand boldly and joyfully as you visibly appear the Second Time. Help me and others see it more like Christmas morning.