Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:25-36
I was born on Christmas Eve in the naval hospital near Camp Pendelton. The staff had been reduced to service personnel only since it was a holiday. They delivered lilies to my mother, a gift from a friend, and put them on her sleeping form in the hospital room. When she woke up, her very sensitive clergy wife's nose told her she had passed on. She was disappointed at first with heaven since it looked like a hospital room. When she really came to, she recovered her sense of things and had to laugh at her misunderstanding of the signs and the smells. We all can misinterpret the signs of the "end". The same signs can foretell great evil or great good. For these two now grandparents, the vision of lilies reminds us of our little grand daughter Lilly and joy bubbles over.
Jesus talks to his disciples about the coming of God's kingdom, both in historic time and their personal lives. None of us deals well with change and transition, none of us deals well with the sudden traumas and insecurities we face. But the message for today from the Emmanuel, God with us, is that God has broken down all the barriers between divine and human. God is drawing near and in this season, we are invited to lean in and be close to God. We are invited to trust God and live with joy and hope in this Advent season, this time of waiting, these moments of making new room for love.
Today, I ask God to help me light a candle, sing a song and carry God's joy wherever I go. May we who hope and trust in God, carry the love we have been given throughout the world. May we shine the light into dark, depressed corners, may we carry refreshment and renewal to those in need, and may we offer our humanity to the eternal love of God. May we be inspired by the perfect love offered to share what we have received in our unique and very human ways today.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.