Don't just do something, stand there! - Reflections 11-28-18

 Texts for Sunday  December 2, 2018
 First Sunday of   Advent

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

 Advent is the first of the new Church Year. It invites us to prepare for Christmas - but not really.

It arrives during the time of the secular calendar that can be downright frantic. We have to get ready for Christmas!  Yet, to get ready, Advent invites us: “don’t just do something – stand there!”

We “stand there” looking for the coming of someone who has already come, for someone who is coming, for someone who then will come again.  We “stand there” waiting and watching, staying alert for signs. 

But what signs? This Sunday’s Gospel says that the “powers of the heavens will be shaken”. People will faint with fear. We, however, lift up our heads because this is it, what we have waited for. Don’t faint, stay alert. Jesus said the signs are as easy as the signs that spring is here. Yet, the day of coming might catch you unexpectantly like a trap (maybe not so easy-peasy to see). I’m starting to feel stressed again.

No need to be stressed. To stand there in Advent is like taking a deep breath to focus body, mind, and soul. It is like standing with your knees slightly bent rather than rigidly locked, ready to move, like being a short-stop prepared to shift whichever way the ball is hit. It is from that position of readiness, that we face our world’s shadows of fear, confusion, violence, and despair. We stand there in the darkness with compassion, bringing Advent’s promises of grace and peace and love and hope to our shadowed world.

Earlier in the book of Jeremiah, the prophet described the destruction and ruin of Jerusalem. This week’s reading from Jeremiah is found in the section of the book called “Consolations”. Jeremiah speaks to those who have lost it all, who live in exile. He says that God will restore what was torn down; new life will rise out of the rubble bringing justice and righteousness. God’s grace and peace will bring light to the present darkness. 

The psalmist affirms that our gracious and upright God will lead us in justice and show us the paths of steadfast love and faithfulness in the darkness.

The promise of Thessalonians is that through God we can “increase and abound in love for one another and for all”; we will bring the bright light of God’s love into the darkness.

And as odd as it may seem, the apocalyptic reading from Luke offers hope when there seems to be no hope. That is how apocalyptic literature works in the Bible. We know the ending of the story. God wins. Love wins. Grace wins. Peace wins. God promises that hope wins.

Where do you find hope in the midst of chaos and desolation?

How do you bring God’s promises to the shadows in our world?

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245