First Sunday of Advent

October 29, 2019 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

December 1: Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44

The Advent season begins with texts focused on the coming of the Son of Man, what he will do when he comes, and what we are to do when he does. The vision and promise of Isaiah is that the Lord’s holy mountain shall be a beacon, shining forth God’s peace and righteousness, like a lighthouse in the tumultuous sea of warfare, conflict, and strife. The glorious promise of the refuge of the Lord’s presence would be such that people would say to one another, “Come, let us go up to the mountain” (2:3) and in the meantime, “come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (2:5) as we await the time when nations shall “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (2:4b).

This text in Isaiah is paired with the lection from Matthew 24, a text which speaks about being ready and watchful. It’s a readiness not marked by stargazing, but by being attentive to the surprising presence of the Son of Man among us, who comes like a thief in the night. Interestingly, this text precedes three subsequent parables (the so-called household owner, the ten bridesmaids, the talents) about being ready – readiness of heart, readiness of hope.

Stewardship in the sacred seasons of Advent and Christmas engages us in mutual giving-receiving with one another and with God. We give that which we have received from the Lord; the Lord gives so that we may respond in worship, thanksgiving, and participation in the Lord’s mission in communities around us. Far from hoarding gifts for our pleasure and delight (although there is a bit that we are to enjoy), the Lord’s gifts to the world are invitations to consider who is the Son of Man, what is the Lord doing in our midst, are our lives ready to receive Him and His call to participate in His transformative work in the world?

Readiness of life means actively coming up to the mountain of the Lord to be instructed in his ways, going down from the mountain to walk in the light of the Lord, who shines our path to be about His work in the world, in many parts where pruning hooks and swords and guns/bullets and online violence and wars of words are rampant and regular. We don’t seek the Son of Man in the stars above; He’s shining brightly through the community which He calls and redeems, a community of people marked by hope and justice propelled by the Lord’s love.

Are you ready? Then come on, let us walk in the light of the Lord.