Both the New Testament reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians and the Gospel of St. Luke talk about the second coming of Christ: “to be blameless in holiness…at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones…” and “then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory…” Both of these readings exhort us to be ready and vigilant; to conduct ourselves to please God and “pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent…” to be ready for judgment. I am guessing that this is what it means to be “blameless in holiness…” The answer is to live all our now moments as if they were our last—as if now is the moment of final judgment. This moment, this place; here and now is the time of relationship with God. Here and now are the present and the future of our salvation.
In thinking about Christs’ coming again we may also consider a third coming: His arrival in the Paschal Mystery⎯in the Word and Sacrament and in the members of the Assembly (we, the Body of Christ). We participate in this “coming” every day of our lives. The coming of Jesus into our hearts is a life-long process by which we are eventually judged.
We know that Christ has come; we know that in history God made His presence known in His love for us, but we also await His return at the end of time. Jesus reminds us today to be vigilant and alert in our waiting. We are called to live between the already and the not yet. So, what do we do while we wait? Be blameless in holiness…
The Psalm today tells us clearly what to do: “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul; to you, I lift my soul.” This is a prayer of plan and method, a way and an attitude of waiting for His next coming. In the meantime, in the here and now, we experience the presence of Christ in the mystery of the Word and Sacrament, in Eucharist and in Community; in a relationship with God through relationship with each other. We raise our voices together in thanks and praise, believing what we sing and singing what we believe. May we always and in all ways lift our souls to the Lord!
Last weekend we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King. The image of the Crown of Christ comes down from the cross to become the symbol of the next season: The Advent Wreath. Today we light the Advent Wreath⎯an image of a circle of light. Many things may be represented by this Advent circle-symbol: enduring union, rings (God’s everlasting love), safety (the circle of family and friends), protection, (circle the wagons!). The circle of the Crown of Christ the King converted into the circle of the Advent wreath⎯one circle becoming another⎯with all the symbols (enduring love, safety and protection) that this circle implies. One season flows to the next; everything is made new. This is the hope of our belief in the face of future judgment.
We await the final coming of Christ In the Day of the Lord; we celebrate His first coming at Christmas, and we live His coming in our hearts every day. As we light our Advent wreaths in Church and at home, we praise God for all the advents of His son: yesterday, today and forever. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God with us!
Just a note: Don’t forget to start the new liturgical year by attending our St. Aidan Music Ministry’s Christian Service Project to refill the food pantry for Christmas: “An Advent Pageant: Cradle, Cross and Crown” takes place on Sunday, December 12 at 4: 00pm.This is a great way to prepare for our King’s coming celebration of Christmas. Come to listen, sing and pray together as we support our parish project to feed the poor and needy. See you there!
Another Note: Here is a song about wanting holiness, faithfulness and righteousness.