Old Problems and New Beginnings

First Sunday of Advent - December 3, 2023

By now the last of the leaves have likely fallen from trees in northern climes, and any still holding on look dry and dead. Snow has arrived, and its thick blanket shows the stains of city filth and grime, reminding us of the waste we are pouring over the land and into the water. This is the season we begin a new year in the life of the church and, as with our worship, we begin with a confession of our participation in the world’s suffering.

Heavy hearts and burdened consciences will relate to Isaiah’s confession, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6). Then, just as the cold nights in the northern hemisphere reach their longest, Mark addresses us with promises that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man will include the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars. Hold on, there is hope!

The promise of Advent is that God is always at work in the world, bringing new beginnings and a new creation to people and powers long bent on destruction. Yet, because we live in the generation that exists between the “already” of Christ’s resurrection and the “not yet” of God’s full restoration of the creation, we cannot know when that final day will arrive. Instead of becoming preoccupied with the end times, we are counseled to live our lives in a state of preparedness—trusting that our home is God’s home and that God is coming once again to dwell with us. That trust is the strength that sustains us as we “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).

©2023, Sundays and Seasons, a div. of Augsburg Fortress.