25: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars…” – Jesus has gathered His disciples for one last lesson, a lesson focused on the future and a time when He will return.
26: “People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world…” – Things we face in this world can fill us with fear and dread.
27: “Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.” – The promise of Christ’s return is assured.
28: “Now when these things begin to take place stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” – In all things, we can lift our heads to Christ, singing songs of praise, for His promise of redemption is available to all who open their hearts to His love.
31: “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” – In the midst of our difficulty, in times when things seem to be falling apart, Jesus says we see the kingdom of God in our midst and we will know He is near.
33: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Only one thing in the entire universe is everlasting – the Word made Flesh.
34: “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that the day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.” – The trappings of life will distract us from the one thing that is important, our relationship with Christ.
36: “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.” – Be Ready!
Points to Contemplate:
Are you ready?
What is it that you are to be ready for? Are you to be prepared for a universal, cataclysmic event, the Apocalypse, where all the heavens and earth will come to an end in one single moment? Are you to prepare on a more personal level, keeping your focus on the righteousness of God in preparation for the moment your time on earth ends and you, personally, are standing before the Father? Or, is your preparation for the needs of your community? Are you called to be the kingdom of God in the lives of those who God sends your way? Are you ready?
Are you filled with “fear and foreboding?”
Do the events of the world, the wars of ideology, the conflicts within our society, or the ecological destruction, cause you to be filled with trepidation? Do you worry about where we, the human race, are headed? Are you pessimistic about our future? Does the promise that Christ is in our midst, above all our turmoil, waiting for us with open arms provide you the hope you need to persevere? Can you set aside your fears and have faith that God’s plan will prevail?
Do you lift your head in hope? The season of Advent points to a future of hope with the coming of Christ yet, it is also a season of despair and loneliness when the pains we have suffered are heightened and magnified. Does the message to “know that the kingdom of God is near” give you the ability to “stand up and raise your head?” In the midst of your discouragement and despair can you grasp to the love of Christ for support and guidance? Will you allow the message of Advent to carry you through the struggles you face? This Christmas, will you allow Christ’s redeeming love to expunge the baggage of hurts, habits, and hang-ups that you determinedly carry with you?
Are you easily distracted? Do issues in your life continuously pull you away from your focus on God? Do you plan to pray and study God’s Word, yet find that time has slipped by and the busyness of your day has squeezed God out? Do you see how easily it is to become trapped by the circumstances of your life? Are you alert to when this is happening? Do you recognize the importance of “standing guard” against these distractions? When Jesus says that we should be ready, do you think that it is important advice to follow? Should guarding against distractions become a priority in your life? Promises of the Gospel:
Jesus is teaching us, in this last lesson before His arrest, that the future is bright with hope and assurance. There will be times when the world around us feels like it is falling apart, when all seems lost and without hope. However, He assures us that in these times He will be there, emerging from the clouds that block our view. It is our job to be ready for that moment. We are to set aside the issues of life that become distractions. We are to look out from our hurt and despair and seek His love. When we look outward, when we focus on His love, we will be prepared for anything that comes our way.
For this first week in Advent, we light the Candle of Preparedness.