Post date: Nov 28, 2011 7:18:38 PM

Happy New Year! Wait, it’s only December. (Pastor is losing it.) And yet for many Christians a new church year began on November 27th with the First Sunday in Advent. (OK—pastor’s brain is still somewhat intact.) In the lectionary cycle we are in the year of Mark. Most of our Sunday gospel readings will be from the Gospel of Mark. The next year will be mostly Luke and the year after that mostly Matthew, with plenty of John spread throughout the 3 years.

Advent means “the coming”: the coming of God’s Messiah for us. Actually we can talk about 3 comings of Jesus our Savior. There is his first coming as a human being, true God and true man. This is his soft and sweet coming as a little baby. Then there is his second coming on the great Day of the Lord as judge of all and Lord of all. We know not when that will be. But there is also his coming among us now and constantly in Christian community and worship, in the Lord’s holy supper, in the Word and in the faces of needy people in our world.

Advent. The secular world wants to rush right into consumer Christmas. Apparently stores will open with sales on Thanksgiving night and not even wait until black Friday this year. But the church thinks it’s important to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas with four

Sundays in Advent. Advent begins the year and urges us to keep awake in our Christian faith and to see Christ’s presence all around us. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus urges us to “Keep awake.”(Mark 13: 37) As it says in the Sundays and Seasons book, “Keeping awake is not about

living in a state of fatigued hyper-vigilance, but instead about using the time we are given as testimony to the power of the risen Christ in our lives for the sake of the world.”

The “stir-up prayers of Advent are always meaningful to me and I hope to you. “Stir up your power, Lord Christ and come.”(week one) “Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.”(week two) “Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and our ears to the words of your prophets.”(week three) “Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.”(week four). During Advent we pray that the Holy Spirit would continually stir up our hearts and minds and hands and voices so that we are ready to not only celebrate Christmas, but to share the good news and love of Jesus Christ with other people.

For the secular world, Christmas ends when the stores close on December 24th and the presents are opened on the 25th. Christians get to celebrate Christmas for a full 12 days, clear up until Epiphany on January

6th. Christmas: Christ-mas: Christ-mass: is the mass, the Holy Supper celebration of Christ, the Messiah, God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Jesus, who forgives our sins and leads us into new and eternal life, is definitely worth celebrating for 12 days and 12 months of the year.

It’s the year of Mark’s Gospel. Mark 1:1 spells it out clearly: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus, Emmanuel(“God with us”) is good news for you and for all people.

Serving Christ together with you,

Pastor Dennis