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Advent and the Beginning of the Church Year

Time for Every Matter Under Heaven

Have you ever noticed how many ways we talk about time? WE keep it, lose it, waste it, spend it, borrow it, even kill it. There is a right time and wrong time. There is either too much time or too little. Time flies. Time is up! And what about our “down” time? We are told to make time, take time, and still, we ache for more time. We chose it, use it or lose it.

In the first eight verses of chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, the word “time” occurs 29 times, mostly to convey a series of comparisons and contrasts. There is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to seek and a time to lose. There is a time for everything—good, bad and all that is between.

The Church’s Way of Keeping Time

The church has created a way of keeping time that centers it’s worship and life around the life of Jesus Christ. It is not an alternative to our normal calendar but exists as an additional way for us to keep track of our spiritual life, our sacred time. In Jesus Christ, God entered fully into the human condition in an act of self-revelation, redemption and, forgiveness. Entering the brokenness of the world, God in Jesus Christ atoned for sin and restored human life. By so entering the created world God brought time and space, matter and human life to fulfillment as instruments for knowing and praising their Creator.

In Christ, God sanctifies time—past, present and future. Jesus lived within the constrictions of earthly time and yet defeated those restraints through his death and resurrection. With Christ as the center of time, all the times and seasons of our lives become centered in Christ. Living in Christ-centered time, stepping out of the whirlwind of clock time, and finding a spiritual rhythm to our lives is possible when we immerse ourselves in the liturgical seasons of the year.

Advent—Living in an In-Between Time

Advent marks the beginning of the church year. The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The Advent season is not just about the incarnation through the coming of the Christ child; it also heralds the second coming of Christ at the end of time. Advent begins the church year while it prepares us for the end of time.

The “end of time” does not mean a termination. The end of time in the Christian context marks the completion of history, the fulfillment of God’s intention for creation.

As we begin the church year and anticipate the end of time, it is imperative that we keep this focus on God’s holy intention because otherwise the story of Jesus—which is about to be rehearsed from conception and birth to death and resurrection—may seem less than what it is: the deliberate fulfilling of divine purpose, worked out in life of Jesus of Nazareth

Hope, Peace, Joy and Love

The First Sunday of Advent, Hope Sunday. The scripture readings show Jesus proclaiming the end of time. We learn that the Messiah will be born in poor and humble conditions, shaking up the people’s expectations and preconceived notions of how the Messiah would come to the world.

The Second Sunday of Advent, Peace Sunday. The scripture readings move us backward in the story to the proclamation of John the Baptist, who declares the necessity of repentance as preparation for the coming Messiah. We find the theme of peace, initiated in the coming of God’s kingdom, intertwined with repentance.

The Third Sunday of Advent, Joy Sunday. The world waits patiently for the return of Christ, yet even while we wait, God is with us—“Emmanuel” in our midst, the cause for all our joy. God  is engages  in what is happening, not distant from us. So too we must be engaged in the world, not separate from it. We serve God who is with us in time now and who will come again at the end of time as we know it.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent, Love Sunday. John the Baptist points to the one who is to come, making it clear that he himself is not the Messiah but the forerunner. The message shifts from penitence to the immeasurable love that God has for us. God’s love is steadfast, while things in this world are temporary and untrustworthy.

Last Published: November 17, 2017 2:55 PM
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Carrie Juarez Hayes, Office Manager?
carrie@milledge.org

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