Today's Lectionary Text
“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 does not 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.”
The passage above made me think about how Christmas has changed for me over the years. The clearest memories I have of the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas are of baking cut-out cookies with my grandmother, decorating the kids’ tree in the basement with our homemade ornaments and then helping mom and dad with the hallmark ornament tree upstairs.
We counted down the days to Christmas on the advent calendar made by my grandmother and prepared for trips to either Kansas City or Abilene, depending on who’s turn it was to have us at Christmas.
Later, as I got older, and life changed in a myriad of ways. Now you may wonder how I made the leap from wistful childhood memories to the confusion and chaos that Luke is writing of. To get where I am today things had to change and they changed drastically.
We don’t live in fairytale lives where there is no distress and there is no fear. I’m no exception. God doesn’t spare us from these things. But instead, if we rely on his strength then yes, we will be faced with chaos, the shaking and confusion. But in Christ these are only the birth pangs of a new creation.
My hope lies in the belief that I will not only escape and stand before the Son of Man, but gain the chance to sit and talk with the Son of Man. I have so many questions. I want to hear all the stories directly from his perspective. I want to know what he said not what others said that he said.
His ancestors were expecting a mighty king. How much pressure did he feel? His earthly father was a carpenter, was he expected to follow in his footsteps as the eldest son? How did he communicate with God? I could pester him for a millennium!
Sometimes your world has to be turned on its head to put you on the right path, sometimes the tradition has to be modified to make it more accessible and even that most treasured of all has to be sacrificed in order to make all things new.
In this advent season I hope you take stock of what the traditions of the season bring you joy, bring you peace and keep those close. Pay attention to those that bring you stress and bring you pain and examine them. Look closely for things that bring you hope and shine a bright light upon them.
Communications Administrative Assistant
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, as we await the coming of your birth, as we anticipate, and as we tell the various versions of the beginning of your story help us to examine our traditions, hold close to those that keep us close to you and help us let go of those that keep us farther from you.
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