Last Sunday was the first week of Advent— the beginning of the Christian year. We reflected on how Advent begins with the end in mind by reminding us to prepare for Jesus’ second coming. With this “end” in mind the hope is that we all start the year with a greater sense of urgency. An urgency to prepare our lives and world in ways of Jesus. As leadership guru, John Kotter’s latest book puts it: “We are too complacent and we don’t even know it ….a big reason that a true sense of urgency is rare is because it s not a natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated.” Well this is exactly what Advent hopes to do—create an urgency within us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes with urgency in an Advent sermon he preached in 1928:
It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming, so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God . . . . We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for every one who has a conscience.
Today during the celebration of Holy Communion we will once again declare, Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ WILL COME AGAIN. Perhaps only when we can keep this end constantly in mind—that one day we will meet Jesus face to face—will we be able to remain urgent about the pressing importance of following in the ways of Jesus.
With the shiver of fear….Alan.