Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent - B

Read Mark 13:24-37

This morning, when I went out to get the paper, Dusty the Church Dog followed. I went about my routine of getting the paper and scanning the headlines while he followed his routine of sitting, scratching, and sniffing. Suddenly, he looked down at the house on the corner and started barking his head off, at absolutely nothing as far as I could tell. About 15 minutes later, while we were eating breakfast, he was at it again, on the coffee table, looking out the window, barking loudly for no apparent reason.

Then it struck me. Most days when he and I do the morning routine, there is a neighbor coming around the corner walking his dog. And, Dusty has to greet him. Around breakfast time, another neighbor strolls by with her dog, and Dusty has to grant permission for them to walk on his side of the street. So this morning, I guess, Dusty was keeping his routine, even though his friends didn't show up as expected.

At the time of the first Advent centuries ago, people were going about their business as usual, keeping to their routines, having already figured out how, and when the Messiah would come - in the palace, born on a day foretold by the prophets, ready to lead the people into that golden age promised so long ago. So, when God is born into a peasant family taking shelter in a stable, with a bunch of smelly animals as midwives, it went right past all the people with all their expectations.

In the gospel reading for this first Sunday in Advent, Jesus warns us that we need to be alert, to be awake, to keep an eye out for the next coming. If we are basing his return on some sort of preconceived expectations, appearing at a certain time on a certain day in a certain place for a certain people, well maybe it will go right past us, while we go about our usual business, keeping to our routines, having figured it all out as to how and when Jesus will return.

If he already hasn't.

Prayer: Help us to realize that it is not business as usual when it comes to your appearing in our lives. Help us to set down our expectations, that we might have empty hands and hearts to welcome you. Amen.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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