This weekend we begin again. This beginning is called Advent, the four-week season before Christmas. It is a season of waiting, of expectation, and of hope. A season that calls us to examination, to pay attention, and to stay awake.
Advent reminds us that we are still waiting. Jesus promised that he would return to restore all things, to renew all things, that a new creation would be made known at the end of time. Each year before we celebrate Jesus’ first coming, we first rehearse our hope for his second coming. We rehearse that salvation has not reached its fullness, has not been completed, creation still groaning, humanity still groaning, for God’s final and eternal reign of peace.
The theme and sermon rhythms for this season were finalized in August. Our scriptural companion will be the Gospel according to Luke. In August as I was completing my focus statement for the sermons that are coming I realize that peace, peacemaking, and peacekeeping, were the central point of connection. I looked forward to bringing a word about the one that we wait for, the prince of peace.
This was before Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, Bamako, and Minneapolis. Before terror seem to hit too close to home. Before we were once again reminded of the peace-less reality that many in our world suffer every day.
But it was also after. After many other conflicts, wars, and rumors of war. After other acts of violence, abuse, and oppression. After we have found ourselves in a cycle of being victims and perpetrators. After years of “peace on earth” intonations.
So we begin again, we say: “O Come, O Come, God with Us!” We begin again, we look around, take a deep breath, and pay attention. We begin again, hoping that heaven comes crashing down on earth once and for all, swords turning to plowshares, tears to joy, mourning to dancing, violence to compassion, enmity to fraternity, kingdom to kin-dom, and civilized world to common humanity.
Let us come together this weekend to re-member the one of peace. Let us come together to remember that “when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28