Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
— From Luke 21: 25-36; scroll down to read.
Jesus said there’d be times like this–days when we’d see “distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”
He said we’d find “signs in the sun, the moon and the stars.”
Indeed, the signs of breakdowns are everywhere, more apparent in the 24-hour news cycle than in the skies.
But we see the more hopeful signs of which Jesus spoke when he said, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”
Amid all the news of destruction and confusion and breaking down, we see the signs of the kingdom of God breaking in wherever love is put into action: wherever the poor and homeless are fed; wherever the sick are prayed over and prisoners visited; wherever immigrants and refugees fleeing “distressed nations” are welcomed with open, loving arms.
At first glance, the words of Jesus from Luke 21 contain some gloomy words that may seem a strange message for today, the first Sunday of Advent and the Advent Season. Advent Season leads us to Christmas, which is supposed to be, as the secular Christmas song goes, the “Hap- Hap- Happiest time of the year.”
But the Son of Man is coming, and is always near enough to offer Hope and healing to an ever-broken world in need of God’s love and healing powers.
Be on guard that your heart does not get weighed down.
Be peace in the ever-violent world.
Be the love you expect to receive in the end.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.
28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees;
30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.
31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.
33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly,
35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.”
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
—The Book of Common Prayer