For the last few weeks, in the days leading up to the beginning of Advent, our community has been reading from the Book of Maccabees and the Book of Daniel.
As I have been listening to these readings, I couldn’t help thinking that they described dynamics present in our world today. But now, amid the divisive politics, the looming climate change, the effort to plan as we look at the new normal for the future of our community, and yes, for many of us, signs of or own aging or failing health, we are called to pay attention to a different narrative. We are called to let go of our fear and awaken to the Spirit within us.
The readings in many churches for the first Sunday of Advent are from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians and from the gospel of St. Matthew. In chapter 5, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that the Lord will come as a thief in the night, so they must be ready at all times.
He encourages them, however, that they “are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day” (1Thes. 5:5). St. Matthew quotes Jesus giving the same message himself in chapter 24 of the gospel.
Jesus tells his listeners that, as in the day of Noah, the coming of the Lord will take people by surprise. Up to that moment, everyone will be doing the ordinary things of life but as they work, one may be taken and another left. “Therefore keep watch,” Jesus says, “because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt. 24:42).
No matter the darkness that swirls around us, we are called to walk in the light, to be alert to the God of love who shines through our lives, our community and our world, if only we pay attention to it. As baptized Christians we are not of the night or darkness, we are children of the day.
We are called to let that light and love shine though us, always remembering the love of Christ that fills us. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be ever alert to the holy already here and calling us to let it break through our lives, to bring healing, reconciliation and peace to our world.
In many churches and homes, we light an Advent wreath to help us to focus during this time before Christmas, to encourage us on the journey, to help us to be alert as we are called to be the light in our world.