The Coming

經文: 哥林多前 1: 3-9 11-27-2011

Happy New Year!!!

Oh, I get it. You’re feeling confused right now. New years is not right now, you say. When is New Years?

Yes, I understand. January is when you think is New Years. I can see why you might think that. Our calendar New Year is Jan 1 and our lunar new years is Jan 23.

However, today is the church’s New Year.

Today is the first day of Advent. This means that we have to wait four weeks before Christmas comes.

It can seem kind of weird that the beginning of the Christian calendar is Advent rather than Christmas. After all, Christmas is the basis of our entire faith because that is the day that Christ was born.

However, it is clear that no matter where we are in our lives, if we know we’re going to be doing something important, we have to always prepare for it. Advent is the time that we are preparing for the coming of Jesus.

As Christians, we are called to be a patient people. We are constantly in wait for God, from the Old Testament to the New. We spent the entire Old Testament waiting for Jesus. Jesus was with us for a few years and then we are called to renew or wait for the end times.

Patience, as they say, is a virtue. It is certainly a Christian virtue.

But you know, during this time of waiting, we’re not supposed to just sit around and waste our time doing nothing.

The word Advent comes from the latin word adventus, which means “coming.” So we’re not just waiting for Jesus, but we’re preparing for Jesus’ coming.

So, this means that as Christians, we are called to use our waiting time wisely. The readings that we will be doing over Advent are all passages that help us think about how we want to use our time. Advent is not like being in the waiting room at a hospital or at the doctor’s office. Its certainly not like waiting in line. The wait time we have here matters.

What Paul is saying in our reading today is to remind us that Jesus Christ is always with us. But the thing with Jesus being with us is that Jesus makes us better.

When I was a kid, there was this cartoon on TV. He was this sailor guy, the main character of a comic strip. Popeye was not a particularly large person, and he always had a pipe in his mouth. He had a girlfriend named Olive Oyl who was really popular with the fellas, especially Bluto. Bluto was HUGE. Bluto could force his way to Olive Oyl so Popeye would need to go rescue her.

Of course, Popeye was a small guy, so it wasn’t as though he could really defeat Bluto. But when Popeye ate some spinach, he would turn into a superhero, with super strength! Spinach changed Popeye and made him bigger and stronger so that he could defeat Bluto.

Since we’re going with this metaphor, Jesus, then, is our spinach.

When we have Jesus in our lives, we are changed. Jesus has been given to the world because of the grace of God to help us through our daily lives; to help us deal with all the things that come; to give us the wisdom to know what is right and good; and to give us the strength to fight for what we know is important.

In the Gospels, we see that Jesus’ journey in the world was not perfect and not easy, and nor is our own. Our world has shades of gray, with questions that lack real answers. Sometimes, it can be hard to know what the right thing to do is. But Paul reminds us that its okay to not always know what the right thing is or even always do the right thing. Because as long as we try our very best, God is faithful and God’s grace will always be with us.

This is what we are must remember during this time—that what we must be careful and thoughtful about everything that we’re doing; that everything important requires preparation.

The rest of the world has already put up all the Christmas decorations, trees, reindeer and santa. But they’re not really preparing for the amazing, incredible event that is happening. Christmas is not about gifts, lights, and decorations. Christmas is a commemoration of the love God has for us. Let us remember this as we go forth into the season of Advent and cherish the gift of the incarnation, where God not only knows about our suffering and situations, but God has been through it himself. Just like we are. And no matter what, Jesus is always there for us to show us the way.

This week, we light the first candle, symbolizing hope. We have hope that God has come to us, God has been with us, and God will be with us again.

With this hope, we have gratitude for what God has done for us. In our readings this week, Paul begins his letter with gratitude. He says, “I give thanks to my God always for you.” The thankfulness is not just for God, but for people. His friends, his neighbors, and his brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is important because we look at things differently when we come to something with a different perspective.

One day a father and his rich family took his young son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family.

When they returned from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"Very good, Dad!"

"Did you see how poor some people are?" the father asked.

"Yeah!"

"And what did you learn?"

The son answered: "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, while they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, and they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon."

When the little boy finished, his father was speechless. His son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!"

The way we make meaning in our lives have everything to do with how we look at our lives. So this week, let’s continue with the Thanksgiving theme and see if we can think of something to be thankful for. This is an important first step in how we prepare ourselves for Christmas. When we have thankfulness in our hearts, we see the world differently. If you don’t believe me, try it. When you go home this week, try to sit with your family for maybe 10 minutes a day and share what you’re thankful for. You will be that much closer to being prepared for Jesus’ birth.

One of the things that my parents are thankful for, I know, is this church and all the good things that we have done together.

So, to share this thanksgiving with you, they have prepared a powerpoint to remind you of all the things that this church has done. The joys, the accomplishments, the tears, and the touching moments of an entire year. Let us be reminded of all that’s happened in the last year.