Advent is a season when we pay special attention to waiting. Today on this first Sunday of Advent you could say we are anticipating Jesus’ arrival. The first thing we’re waiting for is the celebration of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago. The second thing we are waiting for is the promised second coming of Jesus. This advent season gives us an opportunity to reflect on both. We remember with joy the day that Christ came on earth, we look forward with hope to the day that He will come again.
To reflect these themes, Advent is divided into two parts. The first two weeks focus on the second coming of Christ. The prayers and readings are more solemn, drawing us to repentance as we look towards the last days. They invite us to reflect on whether we are living good, Christian lives. In the final weeks of Advent, the mood lightens. We turn our focus to Christ’s birth, and we begin our preparations for Christmas.
In the Gospel today we are reminded we need to stay awake and be ready. Advent provides us with a spiritual wake-up call. To be spiritually awake we need to be attentive to God, we need to be open and receptive to his Word. So, today at the start of a new church year we have a chance to make our new year’s resolution. Let’s do that, we should seize the day. We need to be awake, to be alert, to be ready, to be concerned for others, to be active , to help where we can and finally to care.
As we begin this season and look forward with great joy to the birth of our Lord we turn to God in prayer. And as written in today’s psalm, I pray for you all: “Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, and in your palaces, peace!”