Homily for November 27
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
The best Christmas gift a pastor can receive
is Christmas falling on a Sunday.
(Christmas on a Monday is like coal in your stocking!)
But this year Christmas does fall on a Sunday,
giving us four whole weeks
to prepare to celebrate Christ’s nativity.
NOT, however, as is popularly understood, not four weeks
“to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.”
Jesus was born, Jesus came to us over 2,000 year ago.
Jesus will no more be born again on December 25
than you or I are born again on our respective birthdays.
Nor will Jesus be any more present on Christmas Day
than he is today, November 27.
And yet it’s true that Jesus will come again, as he promised,
at the end of time.
Try to wrap your minds around that one: the end of time…
It’s hard enough for me to imagine the end of my time,
let alone the end of all time.
But Jesus will come again: the culmination of all creation
and of human history,
just as we profess each week in the Creed that
“he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
So do we need to wait for the end of all time for Jesus to come again?
No. Each of us will have an encounter with Jesus
before the end of the world.
I’ll meet Jesus when he comes for me,
]at the end of my time on earth - as you will when your time comes.
And that will be the most important meeting of our lives
]and though each of us is scheduled for that meeting with Jesus,
none of us knows the day or the hour when it will occur.
So, Advent is really a time to prepare for,
if you will - a time to rehearse for -
meeting Jesus when he comes at the end our lives.
And I can’t think of a WORSE TIME OF YEAR
to prepare or rehearse for meeting Jesus
- than the month of December!
St. Paul had it right, oh-so-right in his letter to us today:
if you’re getting ready to meet the Lord
then make no provision for the flesh.
And he’s not just talking about
drunkenness and lust and jealousy.
He’s talking about our desire for things, for stuff,
for toys, for more -- for more than we need
when we already have MORE than we need!
These four weeks before Christmas have become a month of
spending, buying, wrapping, hiding, giving, getting and returning:
I’m not sure what our meeting with Jesus will be like,
yours and mine,
but I have a suspicion, a hunch,
that showing up at that meeting with our arms full of STUFF,
weighed down by what we cling to,
(stuff don’t need!)
well, this might not be the posture, the stance we want
for our exit interview with the Lord.
Advent is not something invented by the Grinch to hold off Christmas
and it’s not the Church trying to deprive us of our good cheer.
It’s meant to be a way, a time, a season for remembering
what Christmas is really all about.
And who among us doesn’t agree that the celebrating the birth of Jesus
has been all but lost in the commercialization of this holy day?
So much emphasis on selling and buying and giving and getting stuff -
so much rushing around, spending too much money,
eating too much food, drinking too many drinks,
and getting much too tired
- from a season that’s supposed to celebrate the peace
that is ours in Jesus.
Advent is meant to be a haven of peace where, at year’s end,
we can take some time to look forward, as did Isaiah,
to a time when we will beat our weapons into ploughs -
not just the weapons of the military but our personal weapons, too:
the weapons of anger and greed and jealousy and selfishness,
the weapons of grudges and resentments,
the weapons we carry and wield
in our homes, in our neighborhoods, at work and at school.
In these weeks before Christmas
might we think not so much about the gifts we’re going to get
but about the gifts we’ve already received, the gifts that bring us peace:
the gift of faith in God who lives within us and among us;
the gift of hope in God who promises never to leave us;
the gift of love from God who is our future: tomorrow and forever.
• Advent’s a time to wake up
- not to get out early and beat the crowds to the mall -
but a time to wake up and look at our lives in the light of the gospel
and look for the ways the Lord is drawing close to us
day after day.
• Advent is a season to make peace with God
as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s birth among us
and to prepare ourselves for the day when he will come again
in the hope that when he does - we’ll be ready to meet him.
So, how will we, this December, this Advent season,
how will we respond?
Take a moment and think abou, take a rough guess,
at how much you’ll spend this year:
on Christmas gifts
and on Christmas entertaining, food and alchohol
and on decorations, wrapping paper, ribbons, cards and tinsel…
Add up those figures and imagine taking 10% of the grand total
and making that your gift to charity this Christmas season.
(If that seems too much,
consider that we generally give 20% of the bill’s bottom line
to the server in a restaurant…)
What will we give for those who have nothing?”
If you’re wondering what to get Jesus for his birthday,
I have it on good advice, that he’d be thrilled
if you’d care for his brothers and sisters most in need.
That’s really all he wants for Christmas - oh! and our hearts:
that’s all he really wants.
Or, this December, count up the minutes in a day
(there are 1,440 in a day)
and imagine taking not 10% but just 1% of that time
(a little less than 15 minutes)
Imagine taking 15 minutes a day in Advent,
to sit quietly with the Lord and share with him
the joys and difficulties of your day
and your hopes for peace this Christmas….
Jesus is about to come and meet us today, here, at his table, our altar,
and to share with us, once again his own loving, reconciling heart
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
• Ponder what he gave us on the Cross:
he gave more than 1% or 2% - he gave his all:
everything he had to give, holding back nothing…
• Ponder what he wants for his birthday:
gifts for those in need - and the gift of our hearts…
• Ponder how much we have
in contrast to how much we will offer this Christmas
for those who have so little.
Ponder these things
and ask the Lord to help us stay awake:
because you and I don’t know the hour or the day
when he will, at last, come to meet us.
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments