Reading I: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
GOSPEL: Mark 13:33-37

Happy New (Church) Year!

Did you ever go to a party at a friend’s house when their parents weren’t home? Or perhaps you were the host of such a party when your parents were away? Because everybody knows that when the parents are away it’s time to play! Inevitably the partygoers make choices and decisions they know are not right. We do these things because we know our parents aren’t there to stop it from happening.

Don’t get busted!

In that type of situation, wouldn’t it be easier if we knew exactly when our parents were coming home? Imagine if we knew the exact time of their arrival. We would be ready and waiting for their return. The house would be clean. All evidence of wrongdoing would be eliminated.

If only we knew the time they were coming home.

If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?

In the message on this First Sunday of Advent, we are reminded of the times in our lives when we made poor choices and decisions, thinking we wouldn’t get caught. We did things we shouldn’t do because we thought we had time to “clean-up.” We assumed we’d be able to do whatever was necessary to get rid of our mess and keep out of trouble. But if Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?

In the first reading, Isaiah tries to create a picture of what heaven is like. We are told that Heaven is more than anything we are able to comprehend. Eyes have not seen anything like Heaven. Our ears have not heard anything like the heaven that is waiting for us.

He then shares a great image of our relationship with God. The image is that God is the artist and we are the clay in his hands. The key to this image is how pliable or flexible the clay is. The clay must be soft and easy to shape. If the clay is hard and unable to be shaped, then the artist can do very little with it.

What I say to you, I say to all: Watch! (Mark 13:37)

With the beginning of the new Church year comes a different gospel – the gospel of Mark. In his Gospel, Mark wants us to understand that Jesus can come back to earth at any time. In fact, he is concerned that this will happen very soon, so he is focused on making sure people are ready.

We are given a warning to “Be watchful! Be alert.” Jesus then shares a story of a man who leaves his house to travel the world. He gives instruction to the people he had given certain responsibility to “be on the watch.” We are to make sure we are ready for the return of the Lord of the house.

Many of us may have wished we knew the time our parents were to return home. Just like when our parents trusted us to stay home alone and make good decisions, we need to live our lives in a way that suggests we are ready for Jesus to return. The best way for us to act is to be always ready.

If we are the clay and God is the Potter, then how pliable or flexible are we? During this Advent we are called to be flexible and pliable – able and willing to be shaped and molded in the way God wants us to be. Let us look at our lives and find the ways we are not ready for Jesus to return.

The good thing is that we have this season of Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Maybe our goal for Advent is that by the end of the season we are not only ready for Jesus to return, but perhaps we can even look forward to his coming as a great celebration! Imagine what a wonderful moment that will be – but only if we are ready.

So let’s get ready!

Life Applications:

In what ways are you not very pliable?
What is God trying to mold you into?
Do you fear the return of Jesus? Why or why not?
Think of one thing you can do during Advent to help make you ready.

Original article by Deacon Jim Corder, 2002-2020.
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