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Across the Pastor’s Desk: The season of Advent begins

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose

 

Many within the Christian community will be celebrating the beginning of a new year in the life of the church with the beginning of Advent on Sunday, Nov. 29. Advent is a season of patient, but active, waiting.

God’s people wait not only for the celebration of the Savior’s nativity once again at Christmas but also waiting for that same Savior’s second appearing at the close of the age. It is interesting to note that the first Sunday of Advent continues the themes of the last Sundays of the church year, i.e. the coming of the Day of the Lord.

Don Rose

The opening gospel from Mark, the featured gospel of this church year, calls upon reader and listener alike to be awake and to be alert for great and surprising things are ahead.

It is clear that the second appearing of Christ that was expected to come quickly has been delayed. This gospel writer encourages the faithful to be ware of the day that will come unexpectedly.

This is not a call to anxiety or mindlessness. It is a call to joyful anticipation, of active waiting and watching for the signs of God’s gracious activities in the world today.

Note that as part of the unexpected nature of this future event, the gospel writer makes it clear that no one knows the day or the hour of its occurrence. Repeat, no one knows, not even Jesus himself, according to this gospel. For believers the issue is not when, but rather mission and ministry in the time in which God’s people wait.

Unfortunately much time and energy has been lost to predictions of that which no one knows. Many have made fortunes preying upon the hapless folks hoping to know when the Savior will appear again. Fundamentally this is beyond human understanding.

Believing in the promise of this second appearing, God’s people are encouraged to be vigilant so that they do not miss the great things that God has done, is continuing to do and will complete in the last days.

With joy and hope, the children of God anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promises for the whole of creation. With the gift of God’s Spirit at work in them, God’s followers resist the lure of false predictions and speculations and remain anchored in that which is everlasting, God’s word, and that word alone.

A new year begins and with it the opportunity for renewed hope and joyous anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s purposes for all of God’s children.

Don Rose is a pastor at Mansfield and United Lutheran churches.