Vol I No. 7
Daily Thought

Advent Sunday

by William J. Martin

Come, true light. Come, eternal life. Come, hidden mystery. Come, nameless treasure. Come, ineffable reality. Come, inconceivable person. Come, endless bliss. Come, non-setting sun. Come, infallible expectation of all those who must be saved. Come, awakening of those who are asleep.

                                                               (Mystical Prayer of St. Simeon)

It is hard to believe, but Advent has arrived once again. Advent means coming and for Christians, it means specifically the coming of Jesus Christ. Today we pray about Christ’s coming two thousand years ago in ancient Israel. Today we pray also about Christ’s coming in the end times to judge both the quick and the dead. Between the two there is Christ’s coming to us now, when we remember that Jesus Christ is always coming to us, constantly challenging and measuring our present lives. In Advent, we are called to prepare for Christ’s coming, His birth, the birth of Emmanuel, God with us and for us. St. Paul tells us this morning that now it is high time to wake out of sleep, and that now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed, (Rom. Xiii. 11). Today Christ is coming to us in Advent to prepare our souls to welcome His coming birth at Christmas time.

So, Christ is coming to prepare us in Advent-tide for His Christmas birth. Like all other births, His birth will be hard and painful to endure. We anticipate it with premature enthusiasm. What comes to birth in the body is difficult enough, but what comes to birth in the soul might be even harder. The dramatic and difficult nature of Christ’s coming birth in Christ’s prophecy of the new age.  And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;  men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (St. Luke xxi. 25-28) Most people tend to forget that Christ’s coming to us will be no easy business. This Gospel awakens our hearts and startles our souls out of an habitual and customary dormancy and sloth that tend to prepare for Christmas like we might make ready for the coming of a new-born babe whom we long to coddle and caress. Christ is coming to us but not as the one whom postmodern Christians treat as an inoffensive and harmless aider and abetter of their heathen ways. Christ is coming to us and if He will be born in our hearts and souls, Advent must involve a penetrating and conscientious examination of our hearts so that they might truly make ready for Him. The whole of our world must be disrupted, rattled, challenged, confronted, and questioned. The fear of the Lord must awaken us out of sinful sleep. The Lord of Glory means business. The Season of Advent calls all men to a change of heart which will be essential to their salvation.

In Advent Season, we shall be reminded that Christ is coming to us so that we might make ready for the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Our King is coming in order to discover where we are spiritually. His birth will call us into death, a death to everything that competes with His coming to us as the fresh start and beginning of our new and future life with Him. His birth will judge us, that we might awaken out of that sinful sleep that has made us the servants of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Should we awaken and embrace His light and be born again from above, we shall begin to make our way to the Heaven of His Heavenly Kingdom. Should we remain asleep and thus refuse to embrace His light, choosing rather to live in the darkness, then Hell and not Heaven shall be our reward.

In Advent, Christ is coming to help us onto the hard road of spiritual circumspection and repentance. Today we pray: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life. (Collect, Advent Sunday) To cast away the works of darkness means that we must banish all ungodly vice and the desires that seek them out and establish them in our hearts. To put upon us the armour of light means to enkindle desire and passion for God’s heavenly will and way. The armour of light is the protection and defense that God gives to us in His coming Son. St. Paul writes, Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. (Romans xii. 11) Sleeping Christians are never alert and sensitive to the many dimensions of Christ’s coming. We are called to wake up, to smell the spiritual coffee, and to know that Christ’s coming to us involves the hard work of ongoing conversion and sanctification. Hard work means abandoning the spiritual darkness of a contemporary culture and world whose strange ways have saturated our souls with compromise, despair, and the denial of man’s call to excellence. Our urgent prayer should be to eliminate and expunge from our lives whatever does not reveal and manifest our desire for Christ’s purity and holiness, for Christ’s forgiveness and mercy, and for Christ’s wisdom and enlightenment. Our urgent prayer is that we might walk honestly as in the day of Christ’s coming and visitation. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (St. Matthew vi. 34), and thus, again, we pray that we might put on the armour of light.

So, our first wake-up call exhorts us to take time each day to move into a quiet space, that the busy world might be hushed, into an inconspicuous and hidden space, removed from the commotion and commerce of an insane world bent on incessant talk, in order to ask the Lord to give us new desire and fresh longing for His coming light. To be successful, we must separate ourselves from other people, places, and situations. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law, (Romans xiii. 8) St. Paul insists. Our souls can be opened to God’s coming light in Jesus Christ only when we cease to be busybodies, sowers of discord, gossips, tale-spinners, and tale-bearers. We cannot be healed inwardly and spiritually if we are stirred up and moved by the sins of other people. If we have problems with others, we ought to write down what is bothering us and lift those people up in prayer to the Lord. The Lord is much better able than we to solve our problems and to provide solutions. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Romans xiii. 9).

In addition, we must be purged and cleansed of our own evil habits. This requires real honesty and candor. Again, it will be helpful for us to keep a spiritual journal about our own temptations to sin. This helps us to externalize our internal struggles. Once we have brought it out into the open, we have something to study and offer back to the Lord for His healing remedy. It seems simple and even childish. This is good. Christ likes simplicity and childlike natures! Let us remember that Christ is coming to us to bear our burdens and heal our wounds. He comes to take on the burden of our sins. If we slip and fall into any kind of sin, let us be swift to return to Christ and repent. Part of Christ’s coming to us is our familiarity and friendship with Him. Thus, on a daily basis, we need to make time for the Lord. We need to turn off the TV, computer, and cell phone and to tune into Jesus Christ. We can prepare for His multidimensional coming by reading Holy Scripture and learning to apply God’s Holy Word to our lives. Sunday morning service isn’t enough. God wants our time and an earnest willingness to take account of our dealings and doings. Our efforts should begin with simple honesty. Let us offer back to the Lord what we have thought, desired, or intended throughout the day. Let us offer back to Him also when and where we have failed to be merciful, charitable, and loving to others. Let us list our disappointments. Let us thank Him also for the spiritual strength and victory that His Grace has afforded to us. Whatever our temptations may be, in Advent we are called to identify and combat whatever threatens our relationship to Christ’s coming light and love. Our healing and purification will not happen instantaneously. Like anything in human life, bad habits take time to abandon and good habits take time to establish. We must practice the art of claiming and confessing our sins with patience that all vice might be killed and all virtue brought to life in us through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Above all, let us remember that Advent is all about taking the coming Judgment of Jesus Christ seriously now so that we will not regret having ignored it later. What we shall be rewarded with then shall be a summary conclusion of what we have freely and voluntarily chosen and desired here and now. We shall get what we want. If we haven’t wanted God, He will not force Himself upon us. If we have lived in a Godless universe, that world will be rewarded to us forever in Hell. Hell is a Godless universe that stands forever within eyeshot of God’s Kingdom and the joy of His people. The universe is never Godless in the end. God will not be mocked and His truth shall prevail. Man will feel the God whom He rejected and whose love he has lost…forever.

Dear Friends in Christ, Jesus Christ is coming to us once again in yet another Advent tide. Where are we in relation to Him? Let us awake out of sleep, cast away works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light now in the time of this mortal life, that the illuminating brilliance of Christ our love may come to us:

Come, true light. Come, eternal life. Come, hidden mystery. Come, nameless treasure. Come, ineffable reality. Come, inconceivable person. Come, endless bliss. Come, non-setting sun. Come, infallible expectation of all those who must be saved. Come, awakening of those who are asleep.