Updated: Jan 29
A definition of “advent” is: “The coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note.”
The Christian definition is: “A period of time before Christmas, marking preparation for the coming of Christ.”
Christians – since “Christ” is the root of the name – see Jesus as that “someone who is important” AND as that “someone worthy of noting” as “coming.”
The word “advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus,” via the Old French word “advenir,” meaning, “to happen, to come to pass, to befall, to chance, and to betide.”
As such, we read during the Advent season of prophecies that tell what will happen and who will come to pass.
While we sit almost 2,015 years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, thinking we need to remember “the coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note,” as if we are so glad Jesus came, went, and left us a religion in his name, the truth of prophecy is it tells us what will happen, what will come to pass, and what will befall all who listen, as well as all who fail to heed prophecy.
Prophecy is thus a double-edge sword, where it tells the good that will come to pass for those who do heed, while also telling the unfortunate consequences those who do not listen can expect.
Today’s readings have reminded me of natural disasters that have occurred close to areas I have lived. Most recently, there was a tornado that cut a path of destruction across the city in which I live; but prior to that was the path of destruction that came from Hurricane Katrina, which included the place I was living.
In a sense, both were “prophesied” to happen, although the exact places and times were unknown. Those who listened to the warnings were prepared to act properly, lessening the impact of harm. Those who did not prepare for the worse lost more than they had imagined.
Still, the specifics of those two storm cells that were seen on weather radar screens and projected to be potentially very dangerous are just two of many similar storms that come and go. Before Hurricane Katrina was Hurricane Camille, in basically the same place. After the tornado in that city, long-time residents remarked how all tornadoes that strike the town somehow track over the same general path.
That means the warning of the past will always apply to the future; and the same aspect is connected to the Advent readings today.
Christ was prophesied to come. Because Jesus was born, lived and died does not mean that Christ is not still a potential coming in our future.
This means the danger comes when we sit here listening to readings prophesying the coming of Christ and then fail to heed that prophetic message as directed specifically at us …
<pointing randomly> At YOU … and YOU … and YOU too.
We hear how Baruch (who was the scribe for Jeremiah) spoke of the “sorrow and affliction” of Jerusalem. The Jews had lost something dear to them, which caused them pain and suffering.
In an alternative reading for today, from Malachi, we are asked, “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” Malachi then stated, “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap,” where such treatment of the unrefined and dirty will certainly bring about “sorrow and affliction.”
In the Canticle 16 song, the “subtitle” is the “Song of Zechariah.” This song is recalled by Luke, in his first chapter, verses 68-79. While it is easy to overlook where today’s reading says, “John son of Zechariah,” we need to realize that reference is to John the Baptist and that he was not the son of an ancient prophet of Judah. We learn from Luke 1:67 (not read today) that Zechariah was a priest in Jerusalem (rather than one of the “Minor” prophets), who was the father of John the Baptist.
Verse 67 says, “His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.” Thus, the prophecy of John’s father said later (read from Luke1:78-79), “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Once again, a prophecy inspired by God’s Holy Spirit tells of the good times that will come to the righteous, but the trying times that will come to those with less dedication to God. Sorrow and affliction, being tested by fire until one’s sins dissolve away, those will be the emotions of human who live in darkness, hiding from the light of salvation, clinging to mortal lives that will always hide in the shadow of death.
Then, from the Gospel of Luke we read how John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, another of Judah’s prophets who foretold of both coming glory and pain. John the Baptist was another “one crying out in the wilderness,” repeating the warning of Advent that Isaiah prophesied. They both cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Then they added, “The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
John went out, “into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” which was based on the prophecy of Isaiah. Because Isaiah had done the same as John, who foreshadowed what Jesus of Nazareth would do, and more of the same would follow with the disciples who were elevated to Apostleship – the continuation of this proclamation becomes our Advent.
All of those prophecies read today that foretold of the Advent of a promised Messiah, who would be known in the body of Jesus, as the Christ, remain valid. As such, all of the prophecies say how the Messiah comes to correct the broken and reward the holy.
Jesus did not come-happen-betide when he did to keep things from breaking, to prevent people from taking a crooked path, from wallowing in the darkness of sin, and being so ashamed they seek the shadow of mortal death. The ways of the world will always be an ever present danger.
The influence of evil has strength in the material realm, but only when surrounding the weak and hopeless souls of humanity. Therefore, the same prophecies marking the Advent of Christ continue to foretell of that same Coming to Pass, forever more.
A new storm is always forming on the horizon and messengers will always be sent to warn of the harm that will happen to those who do not seek safety, to those who ignore the warnings to find shelter beforehand.
Those who never think that prophecy involves them, and never hear the words of Scripture as a personal warning that requires them to prepare a path for the Lord … into one’s heart … they are the most prone to suffer sorrow and affliction. Those who have eyes but cannot see, or ears that cannot hear, they imagine how hard it is to take a straight path. A crooked road seems more gratifying to those who have not yet experienced a personal Advent.
I boarded in a home that had survived Hurricane Camille. After Hurricane Katrina, that house and many, many others were swept off their foundations and piled as rubble, one on top of another. All possessions were forever lost. Hurricane Katrina became the Advent of long-term sorrow and affliction for many people … most who heeded the warnings and came back to find destruction; but to some – those who ignored the warnings – they found their shadow of death a reality that was much closer that they were prepared to face.
A life saved from natural disaster is a life that can give glory and praise to the Lord, recognizing Him for having sent messengers of warning. A life cannot be replaced as can houses and furniture, cars and clothes.
You can buy natural disaster insurance that will replace things lost, although one-of-a-kind possessions are irreplaceable. But, for a body giving shelter to a soul, the message of a storm warning is to keep God alive in one’s life.
Rather than a paper policy of promise, the only assurance that comes from a covenant with God and Christ is felt within. One’s emotions become uplifted from heeding the call to hear what is coming.
As Jesus Christ said to his followers after he was risen, “Receive the spirit.” That is the Advent step. You have to love God in order to desire for yourself to be reborn as Jesus, so you can follow the will of Christ and walk in the same footsteps of Jesus, in service to God.
We know that the Advent is an ongoing prophecy of the Coming of Christ, because of the letter written by Paul to the Philippians. Paul was encouraging Christians seeking the Holy Spirit to keep working towards “the day of Jesus Christ.”
The “day” of Jesus Christ means the birthday of one’s self as Jesus’s duplicate. It is that memorable event when wanting to be Christ-like is fulfilled.
Happy birthday of Jesus Christ in you!!!
Paul wrote to them saying, “I long for all of you with the compassion of Jesus Christ.” Paul had already had his “day of Jesus Christ,” so he felt the depth of “compassion” that Jesus felt for others who sought to receive the spirit and serve God.
At the same time, Paul prophesied to the Philippians – AND TO US HERE TODAY – that his longing was “for all of you [to also be] with the compassion of Jesus Christ.”
Paul made it clear to the Philippians (and to us) that “in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” We can only “produce the harvest of righteousness” when we are an extension of the Good Vine of Christ … as another “Jesus Grape” full of the sweet moisture that is the emotion from the Holy Spirit.
This is actually what a church looks like: a gathering of Jesus Grapes.
That is the blood of our Savior flowing through our veins.
We become another Advent of Jesus as the Christ, fulfilling the prophecies, just as John the Baptist fulfilled his priestly father’s speaking as Isaiah, through the Holy Spirit. We become a repeating of that voice in the wilderness, crying out for all to heed a warning, while giving praise for a promise to be fulfilled.
Everything we are to do, in order to be clothed in the robes of righteousness that Jesus of Nazareth wore, is done for the glory and praise of God. To be so pure as to offer your self to the LORD in righteousness, there can be no glory or praise for yourself.
You become a lightning rod through Christ, grounded in the earth, with arms raised in praise to God.
Picture yourself as a Y, with all that is YOU at the convergence of three straight paths. The Trinity then surrounds your being.
When the refining fire strikes, as like a lightning bolt from God, you cease being raw ore and start being purified silver. You become transformed into Jesus, as another Son of Man subservient to the Christ Mind. You become a physical receptacle for the Father’s spiritual outpouring.
Thus we say, because we ARE the ADVENT of: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.”
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