Be alert! Weekly Reflections 11-25-15

The texts for Sunday, November 29
The First Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Lately, I’ve been reminded of a bumper sticker from several years ago: 
Be alert. The world needs more Lerts.

I said I remembered it, not that it was particularly clever. I think it appeared a couple of years past Nine Eleven when our nation never left the yellow or orange terror threat level. My question at that time was “But how long is it physically possible to stay alert?”  We weren’t a step ahead; we were scared. 

This passage feels like it describes now, doesn’t it? Luke describes a “people [who] will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming”(v.26).  Our world is broken – some of those who seek power do so through violence in horrible ways.  

When I read today’s Gospel text “be alert at all times” (v.36), I thought “I can’t do that”. Not when a new terrorist threat is released every other day. Not when a million vulnerable people are traveling by airplane for the holiday. Not when a zillion vulnerable people crowding into stores and malls to shop on Friday. My “lert-ness” is weary. 

But that, my friends, is the point of Advent. 
We wait. We watch.

We prepare God’s way in spite of fainting and foreboding, of fear and weariness. The days are coming when justice and righteousness will fill the land (Jeremiah 33:14). That is a promise. God is gracious (Psalm 25). That is our assurance. May you increase and abound in love for one another and for all (1 Thessalonians 3:12). That is a blessing. The everlasting love of Christ is more certain than these things. That is hope.

In Mark these words were for a community facing “the apocalypse” now. The temple either was or soon would be destroyed. Society was in chaos and fraying at the edges. But for Luke and his community, all that was past….20 years or so ago. So their question is more “so now what? If life is going on, for what do we wait?  The answer: “Keep your heads up. It’s coming.” That’s all. Except for the suggestion to also pay attention to yourself and your reaction (avoid being drunk and distracted) so you don’t miss the point.

And that is our answer for this broken world. The kingdom is breaking in. There is promise, assurance, blessing, and hope. Pay attention.

So we are back to being alert. 
This text also asks us so what? In the midst of our weariness, how does being watchful, patient, alert, change/challenge who we are? How is that transforming?

How do you think God will use these moments to strengthen, redeem, and transform you?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, November 29, for more ways to reflect on these verses.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comment section below.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245