This was my first Sunday of Advent at a liturgical church. I was surprised by the readings - assuming they would be about baby Jesus in the manger. Rather, the readings were looking forward to Jesus' Second Coming and reminding us that in this season we are preparing our hearts for His Second Coming. Our pastor highlighted the crisis (i.e. a moment of decision) that Jesus' first coming brought to individuals and how we often overlook that by packaging Jesus into a nice, neat, containable story. However, the God we serve cannot be packaged nor contained and as you read these verses I think that you will see that is true. I'm also praying that your hearts may be encouraged with the reality and hope - a hope for a future that we have with Him because as Luke 21:28 says,
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love grow more and multiply for each other and for all people so that you will love others as we love you. 13 May your hearts be made strong so that you will be holy and without fault before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
"hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!”
On that day he will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will split in two, forming a deep valley that runs east and west. Half the mountain will move toward the north, and half will move toward the south. 5 You will run through this mountain valley to the other side, just as you ran from the earthquake when Uzziah was king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him.
6 On that day there will be no light, cold, or frost. 7 There will be no other day like it, and the Lord knows when it will come. There will be no day or night; even at evening it will still be light.
8 At that time fresh water will flow from Jerusalem. Half of it will flow east to the Dead Sea, and half will flow west to the Mediterranean Sea. It will flow summer and winter.
9 Then the Lord will be king over the whole world. At that time there will be only one Lord, and his name will be the only name.
The God of gods, the Lord, speaks.
He calls the earth from the rising to the setting sun.
2 God shines from Jerusalem,
whose beauty is perfect.
3 Our God comes, and he will not be silent.
A fire burns in front of him,
and a powerful storm surrounds him.
4 He calls to the sky above and to the earth
that he might judge his people.
5 He says, “Gather around, you who worship me,
who have made an agreement with me, using a sacrifice.”
6 God is the judge,
and even the skies say he is right.
I Thessalonians 3:9-13
We have so much joy before our God because of you. We cannot thank him enough for all the joy we feel. 10 Night and day we continue praying with all our heart that we can see you again and give you all the things you need to make your faith strong.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On earth, nations will be afraid and confused because of the roar and fury of the sea. 26 People will be so afraid they will faint, wondering what is happening to the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to happen, look up and hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!”
29 Then Jesus told this story: “Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. 30 When their leaves appear, you know that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that God’s kingdom is near.