Project Description

Advent 1C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 / 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 / Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

My mom’s birthday is this coming up week.

So on Friday, I went to Target to look for a gift
and get her a birthday card.

Christmas wasn’t even on my mind
until I went to the card section and
saw the rows and rows and rows
of Christmas cards.

I thought that since I was there—
I’d go ahead and buy my Christmas cards.

Row after row after row of Christmas cards—
and not one—
not one had a religious theme.

There were Christmas trees—
and Rudolph—
and tree ornaments—
and presents—
and snow—
but no Jesus—no Mary.

No religious themed cards

So, I got my mom’s birthday card and
got in the checkout line and thought,
“that can’t be right,
there’s one religious themed Christmas card
among those hundreds of cards.

So, I got out of line and went back
to card section to recheck.

Not one—
not one religious themed Christmas card at Target.

Poor Jesus—
Poor Jesus.

You know,
I am pretty much convinced that
the most counter-cultural thing that
anyone can do these days—

other than sending religious themed Christmas cards—
is to celebrate Advent!!!

It’s the forgotten and overshadowed liturgical season.

I got in someone’s car before Thanksgiving—
before Thanksgiving—
and there was a Lexington radio station that
was already playing 24/7 Christmas music.

I just was browsing through
a book written by a pretty
typical American worker who was living a
pretty typical American worker’s life.

He’s was busy and stressed—
working hard to fulfill his duties as
a husband and a father and a professor.

He felt like his life was spiraling out of control—
his daily life was filled with forces that
were constantly pulling and pushing on him:
career demands—
financial decisions—
scheduling conflicts.

His “outlook calendar” on his phone and computer—
Had become a relentless and ruthless dictator.

That calendar controlled his life—
sending him constant alerts and
messages and reminders about
where he should be—
what he should be doing—
and who he should be doing it with.

Time can easily become our enemy—
especially around this time of the year.

Not only do we have our
regular schedule to deal with,
the season piles on all kinds of
extra things and extra stresses.

Our dictator outlook calendar is an
even harsher dictator in November and December.

Time can enslave us—
Our schedule becomes a burden—
Life becomes exhausting.

And one day,
the author of this book I was browsing—
decided he was going to make a major change.

He started arranging his life—
not through his “outlook calendar”—
not on the secular calendar—
but on the Church’s calendar—
on the Liturgical Calendar.

The book is entitled
Numbering My Days:
How the Liturgical Calendar Rearranged My Life.

It’s by Chene Heady.

And it made a difference—
A big difference.

It brought out a deeper meaning to his life—
It made him realize that his life was part of a much larger story—
one that spanned more than just his middle age years.

It made him realize that there was
an underlying coherence to his story
with the God’s story.

The liturgical calendar—
the liturgical traditions—
the biblical readings of each season
gave his life an orientation—
an orientation away from meaningless distractions—
and an orientation to what really mattered in life.
He realized that liturgical time was sacred.

As we move from one liturgical season to another—
as we move through salvation history—
we’re pulled in because we realize we’re
called to be part of salvation history.

So here we are in Advent!!!

Don’t let anyone—
Don’t let anything
take away your Advent.

It’s a sacred time—
Don’t fall for “Christmas Creep.”

Let Advent orient us in the right direction!!!

And where does Advent orient us?

Advent orients us to the coming of Christ—
the coming of Christ into human history—
and—and—the coming of Christ into our lives.

This is so important!!!

Advent orients us to the coming of Christ—
the coming of Christ into human history—
and the coming of Christ into our lives.

And the first weeks of Advent orient
us primarily to the second coming of Christ.

The message of Advent is an echo of Our Lord’s:
Don’t get distracted—
Don’t become drowsy from the daily anxieties of life—
There’s that “dictatorial outlook calendar.”

Keep your eyes focus on the great coming of Christ—
where all of God’s promises will be fulfilled.

Where God’s offer of redemption can be accepted—
Where one may enter eternal life—
Where all injustice and pain and suffering and wanting cease to be!!!

The Thessalonians whom St. Paul is
writing too are so overwhelmed and
excited at God’s offer of redemption—
that they want Jesus to return as soon as possible—
come Lord Jesus, come now.

You can see how Advent orients us
in the right direction.

It’s so easy to be get off track.

If I’m not oriented in the right direction by Advent,
then I can get the false and dangerous notion
that my ultimate happiness—
my redemption—
my hope—
comes in a big red box from Target—
or from Tiffanies.

When in reality—
my ultimate happiness—
my redemption—
my hope—
is in Jesus.

And what does St. Paul tell the Thessalonians to do
as the patiently wait for wonderous coming of Jesus.

“May the lord make you increase and
abound in love for one another and for all.”

As they wait for their redemption and ultimate happiness—
As we wait—
we help build up the kingdom of God
by feeding loving those who need love—
and providing for those who need provided for.

So when the glorious return
of our Lord does come—
we are not scared.

Instead, he’ll find us running and excited to meet Him
in great love and joy as we
celebrate our redemption through Christ Jesus.

So as the sacred season of Advent tries to orient us
to the proper place—
it raises some great questions for our reflection:

Am I overwhelmed with God’s offer of redemption for me?

Am I so excited to run toward our Lord when He returns
to show my love for Him and what he has done.

Am I too distracted about passing and superfluous things?

What changes do I need to make in my life so
I can run with confidence into
the arms of Jesus when He comes again?

Advent orients us to the wonderous return of Jesus—
And the celebration of the gift of our offer of redemption—
To true joy and true meaning and fulfillment.

So, do something radical—
Do something completely
counter-cultural this time of year—
Celebrate Advent!

Let the liturgy orient our lives in the proper direction—
Toward the second coming of Jesus—
Toward our redemption—
Toward our ultimate happiness—
Toward our present life and our eternal life.

Make this time sacred.

And if looking for Christmas cards is
part of your Advent tradition—
pick one that has Jesus in it.

Maybe it will orient who you send it to
in just the right direction.

Holy Spirit 12/1-2/18