The Rev. Canon Dr. Darcey Lazerte
Preparing Ourselves to Meet Jesus
Happy New Year! Yes that right, it is the first Sunday of Advent (which literally means coming) and it is the start of a new church year. It is a time when we deliberately prepare our heart, mind and body to receive the gift of Jesus. It means that in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas around us we pause, reflect and deliberately prepare ourselves for the real meaning of Christmas. As I remind us yearly, we meet Jesus on three levels, first as a remembrance of what happened some two thousand years ago. Second, personally in our lives as we realize that knowing and following Jesus transforms our living and finally we prepare ourselves to meet Jesus who is judge of all. Let us take a little time this morning to look at what this means.
To meet Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem, that remembrance is theologically called the Incarnation. It is why we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” because we know that there is something special about the birth of Jesus. It is indeed the understanding that in Jesus God is with us and that the course of history has been changed. It is the realization that God acted and is continuing to act through the person of Jesus the Christ who while fully human is fully divine and is a unique and special revelation of God in our midst. To welcome Jesus in our lives means that we are doing more than just observing an historical fact or reflecting upon the life of one of the holy ones who has spoken to us through the ages. It means that not only is Jesus relevant but he is present in our lives and in the world. That we are called to listen, to obey and to experience the healing message and power of Jesus in our lives. We call this redemptive theology, that is God redeems us and makes us whole in the revelation of Jesus. The final preparation we make at this time is to prepare ourselves to meet Jesus who is judge of all and who is eternal. In this we remember that it is not just about the baby in Bethlehem but rather the eternal nature of that baby and that he was there at the beginning of time and he will be there at the end as judge of all. This sort of writing in scripture we call “apocalyptic” and it is what makes up our eschatology, or theology of end times (things eternal).
So in our period of preparation (Advent) where we prepare ourselves to meet Jesus, historically, personally and as judge of all really does speak to three foundational theologies (understanding of God and God’s work); that is the incarnation, redemption and eschatology. While interesting, I hope, one must ask the question “why is it relevant?” The answer to that is that is that this revelation and understanding of what it means to meet Jesus should shape and form our lives of faith. To meet God in Jesus, what we call the Incarnation, reminds us of the wonder and gift of life and creation and of our call to care for creation. Practically this means that we become stewards of creation and look after our earth and that we become stewards of each other and that we truly live out that call to “love our neighbour as ourselves”. To see Jesus as redeemer means that we are called to live as true disciples of Jesus. This means that it impacts how we live, that we truly live out the great commission (love God with our whole heart and love our neighbours as ourselves), that we forgive and that we respond in our living to that holiness of life that we are called to. To see an eschatological dimension to the revelation of Jesus means that we live as the gospel tells us “ be alert”. We live in such a way that if we were to meet our maker we would with humility be able to stand before him knowing we sincerely tried. I remember growing up in the evangelical church and in that church they talk about end times a lot. I distinctly remember, a lady who when asked what she would do if she knew Jesus was coming back next week said “I would charge all of my Credit Cards”. I think somehow she missed the point of Christ’s return. Christ’s return tells us to be wary of how we live and how we respond to God’s revelation.
So the truth is, our Advent observances are a little out of step with the happenings of the culture around us. I think that is an OK thing – enjoy some of the happenings. But, in your heart of hearts, remember this is a season of preparation and we prepare to meet Jesus in history, in our lives and in the future and this should guide us in our lives of faith.
Thanks be to God. Amen.