Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I have to admit I find this reading a little confusing. It seems a little out of place in advent, especially if we are looking for happy joyful Christmas readings. Actually advent isn't really about Christmas. At least not only about Christmas. During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah, and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. But even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus we also look forward to the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised at his birth. So we end up looking in two directions at once! We look back to remember the birth of a baby, and forward to catch a glimpse of that baby grown up coming in power and glory. If we take this gospel reading seriously we should be watching and waiting, taking note of everything that is going on around us. And despite our feelings that our time is the worst, full of disasters and confusion, the things spoken of in the reading are happening and have been happening for most of human history Things really haven't changed that much. When Luke wrote this gospel The temple in Jerusalem had been gone, destroyed for at least fifteen years There was constant upheaval in Israel and all of the nations subject to Roman rule, due to the succession of emperors taking power. There was a lot of fear back then. There is a lot of fear now too. People react to constant fear in many ways. As Jesus mentions, some people fill their time with anything that will distract them from what they are afraid of like drinking and partying, and some people catastrophize and panic about everything! Jesus warns us to: "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life" Lk 21:34 Beware Jesus says not to just give up on the world "People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world." Lk 21:26 People lock their doors, stop trusting each other and begin to think that every bad thing that happens, no matter how rare, is about to happen to them. Both of these reactions are a little extreme. What Jesus seems to be calling us to do is find a middle way through the disasters and trials of life. Don't run around panicking and afraid, but don't bury your head in the sand either. Watch, wait, and above all have hope so you will be ready when the time comes. Wow that is so not what the world expects! Watching and waiting and having hope and patience is not a worldly virtue. We like instant results quick solutions to problems, easy ways out of trouble. Instead of panicking or ignoring what is going on around us we are called to watch, and wait and be hopeful We watch and stay ready so that we can step in and help as God's hands and feet in the face of tragedy, just as Lutheran world relief steps in when there is a disaster. We wait because we know God will act in God's own time, sustaining us in troubled times. And we are hopeful because we know that God keeps God's promises As we celebrate all that God has given us and consider how we respond to God's generosity, we know we are not alone. We are together in this congregation and in the wider church. Actively watching and waiting, sharing the hope of God's love and grace wherever it is needed Amen
Love God, love your neighbor, be the body of Christ in the world Rev. Marie Meeks Dobbs Ferry Lutheran Church firstname.lastname@example.org