Watching for the morning of December 1
The First Sunday of Advent
The Sundays of Advent ring with rich songs of hope. From Isaiah, from Luke, from the hymnody of the church, we hear songs of deliverance and praise, of comfort and joy. But these are not the only sounds of this season. We hear the warnings to be awake and ready. We hear John call us to bear fruits worthy or repentance – worthy of our shift of allegiance to the dawning reign of God. This is a season of turning to one another in kindness and generosity, and turning to God in hope and expectation.
On this first Sunday the key word is “Watch.” Though the consummation of all things comes unexpectedly, “as a thief in the night”, it comes not as threat but as promise. God will reclaim his rebellious earth. The ceaseless strife since Cain rose up to slay Abel will end and “sorrow and sighing will flee away.” We who live in Christ live in the light of that dawning day. And for this day, we wait and watch and work, bearing witness to our redeeming God.
The Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent, 2013
who called forth the first morning of the world
and brings all things to their final end when all night is vanquished,
make us ever mindful of our journey homeward
and wake us to your presence among us,
that the day when swords are beaten into plowshares
may be alive in us now.
The Texts for the First Sunday of Advent, 2013
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” – In the midst of the wars and destructions as the Assyrian empire rises and crushes the kingdoms around Judah, Isaiah proclaims God’s ultimate rule: all nations will recognize and come to Zion to learn the ways of God.
Psalmody: Isaiah 51:4-11
“The heavens will vanish like smoke… but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.” – In place of the appointed Psalm 122, we sing the song of salvation from Isaiah 51. The prophet declares that the faithfulness of God is more enduring than earth and sea and heralds the return from exile in “everlasting joy.”
Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
“You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep … the night is far gone, the day is near.” – Living in the confidence of Christ’s return and the full dawning of God’s reign of life, Paul exhorts the community to “lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light”.
Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44
“Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” – Having spoken of the fall of Jerusalem and warned his followers about the troubles and persecutions they will face in the days to come – and particularly of the false messiahs who will claim that the Day of the Lord has come (in their violent revolt against Rome) – Jesus assures them that though the final day is unknown, they will not miss it when it comes. In the face of the challenges to come they are to be ever awake and attending to the work of God.