Two people were talking about keeping up with the daily news by listening to certain channels.One said, “I tune in to PBS.” The other person said, “I tune in to FOX News.” The first said, “You’re too far-right for me!” and the second came back with, “And you’re too far-left!” It seems we’re known and labeled by the channel we watch, and the channel we watch may influence our views and values.
Advent has us tuning in to another channel
that is neither liberal nor conservative, left or right. Call it “God’s channel” which runs on a three-year cycle tied to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with John appearing throughout the three. A new season begins today, the First Sunday of Advent, with this year’s programs scripted from the Gospel according to Mark.
The pilot show has us hearing a perplexing prediction made by Jesus:
Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.
“These things” being the reference to:
the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
That’s what we hear when tuning in on God’s channel.
It’s the prediction which promotes other programmers and writers and film makers to create scenarios of a driver being lifted out of a car – one of the elect marked for eternal life in a new world, and scary scenes of raging fires devouring people on the run, scenes that make for nightmares, tranquilizers, and professional counseling.
But, tune in on God’s channel, and listen and remember the intent of the scriptwriter, John Mark, secretary to the disciple/apostle Peter. He is portrays God’s Good News in Jesus in a format that is like a “Where’s Waldo” cartoon drawn with words. He wants to have readers try to spot, not Waldo, but Jesus, among the people, doing the work/the things of God.
“Do you (YOU – the first readers and all successive readers) SEE these things have taken place? “These things” being the “great power and glory” of God’s intended rule breaking forth in Jesus, “things” seen in His life, and therefore, “things that have taken place.”
All who let themselves be drawn into those “things,” seen in Jesus, become witnesses. The first “generation” being His disciples, the women who were around Him, serving Him, the crowds who followed Him, the community that would later be called His church. And on, generation after generation of followers who see God’s reign made visible in Jesus, and seeing, let Christ live His life through them and become a preview of that glorious Day which is to come, by God’s timing, and God alone.
Dennis Sanders, Pastor of a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in St. Paul, Minnesota, blogs under the name “The Clockwork Pastor” where his comment on today’s Gospel reads:
‘This passage may be about Jesus’ second coming, but I think it speaks to us also in the here and now. We are called to be on the lookout for the big return, but we are also to be aware of the many ways Christ appears in the present.”
And so, he asks,
“Are we alert to see where Christ arrives, breaking through time and space to be present in our lives and the lives of others? And—more to the point—are we willing to be his hands and feet?”
Edward Gleason tells of a friend who when being interviewed for a job was asked to tell about his walk with Jesus, and he answered, “Everywhere I go, no matter where or when, I find that Jesus has arrived there first. Wherever I go, Jesus is already there." He wasn’t hired. Was the interviewer turned off by the word “Jesus;’
was it because of today’s reaction to all things religious?
I thought about that as I was making the bed one day last week. It is a daily routine I try to hold to, thinking I never know when someone might stop by and want to take a tour of what we call “ a clone of the 1683 house William Penn had built right above Penn’s Landing and the Custom’s House.”
I want to be ready to show off what my family researched and then followed every details to turn into a true-to-the-original house (with the understanding it does have modern conveniences).
But then, I found myself thinking about today’s Advent Gospel and the words of Jesus: this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. and I found myself asking, “What might a drop-in-visitor see, not of our house, but of Jesus?” A questioning thought that changed my daily routine from having a house ready to show to visitors, to being “alert to see Christ…breaking through to be present…”
Jesus Who has us confessing: “Everywhere I go, I find Jesus has arrived there first. Jesus is already there." Edward S. Gleason, In the Time of This Mortal Life
And so, we cannot busy ourselves with “end times” charts readily provided in books and some TV channels,
because we are too busy being “this generation” of witnesses who are energized by Paul’s Advent letter that has us claiming the blessing:
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless
on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful;
by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Called to be “this generation” that is a witness to the work and word of Jesus,
the blessed calling we savor and are sustained to live
as we come to the Advent Table of Holy Communion.