First Sunday Advent – An Irish-Existentialist Approach [1]

signs in the sunIndeed, Advent prepares the church to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – the First Coming. And, yes, Advent orients us toward the Second Coming of Christ on the Last Day. Necessary, but not sufficient.

A modest proposal: Advent also and more importantly locates us in the midst of our lives now, today, to watch for Christ’s coming into the world in difficult times. For this time-in-between can become a foretaste of the fullness of time in this life and mark the days on which crises opened out to new ways to engage Christ.

Here’s a good image: my aunt, my godmother, belonged to Alcoholics Anonymous more than 30 years before she died. She held her sobriety date precious, her birthday. It was the day that marked the difference not only between being drunk and becoming sober, but it marked the new day on which she had begun the process of knowing God and loving her neighbor in totally new ways. There were “signs in the sun and the moon and stars” when she dropped her fearful excuses and took a big step into the Light.

Now, I don’t believe the distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea will make much of a difference here in Wisconsin. No sea. Hence, no confusion. However… The signs in the sun and the moon and the stars (Luke) connect to prophetic descriptions of the end of the idolatrous age

Luke 21:25–27            “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. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.

God warns the people through Moses against making idols of the sun and moon and stars. 

Deuteronomy 4: 15-19              Since you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure—the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them

Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Babylon, the arrogant, the insolent, the idolatrous. As then, so now, when Babylon falls – when either we let go our arrogance, insolence and idols OR they are stripped from us – there are signs in the sun and moon and stars.

Isaiah 13:9f           See, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation, and to destroy sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light

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