Our scripture this morning is Luke 21:25-36.
“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.”
I have often wondered why this passage is prescribed for reading the first Sunday of Advent, when we are preparing our hearts and minds for the first coming of Christ as the baby in the manger. Perhaps it is to remind us that while “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” came to be with us as a human, He is the Lord of all Creation, and will come again to destroy evil forever.
In this reading Jesus concludes His teaching about the end times and His return to gather the faithful. He reminds us again that as we are aware of the signs of the seasons on earth, how much more we must watch for the signs of His coming. His warning goes out to all who claim Him as Lord, that we must be on guard against the distractions of the world in order to be ready for the coming of God’s kingdom.
We hear these warnings repeated by Paul in his letters and John in the book of Revelation. God’s messengers and Jesus Himself tell us of His return and that we must be prepared. While we honor His birth at Bethlehem, let us never forget the eternal promise He came to fulfill, that all who confess Him as Lord may be saved.
Gracious God, we are thankful for the gift of Your son Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. May we worship Him at the cradle and the cross, ever mindful of His call on our lives. Amen.