Homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Year C
- Written by Shane Neese
First Reading: Jer 33:14-16
Second Reading: 1 Thes 3:12-4:2
Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
I remember the first time I had to get up in front of a congregation and sing. I was applying for the Minister of Music position at the Baptist Church we attended. I was sick to my stomach, my knees were shaking and I couldn’t focus my mind or my eyes on anything.
This wasn’t the first time I had ever been up in front of people. I had been in band and choir for years. But this was the first time, standing up there alone. And, believe it or not, at 15 I was shy, awkward, and very much locked inside my own head.
I was terrified of singing off key, forgetting the words, and looking like an idiot. But I sat there waiting for the time to start the service praying, “Lord, please help! All I want to do is sing for you.” As the service began and the pianist began the intro to “How Great Thou Art,” I opened my mouth and sang. It wasn’t my best – I was still a nervous wreck. But by the end of the worship service as we were singing “Just as I am,” I realized that I wasn’t singing for me, or them, I was singing to God, for God, and by his strength.
Our Gospel today speaks of fear and why we shouldn’t be afraid of what is to come. Every generation has experienced trials and tribulations within nature. Hurricanes, Tornados, Tsunami’s, earthquakes, volcanos, floods, drought, and everything in between. Every generation has had its own herald proclaiming the end of the world.
But Jesus tells us very simply, during these times, when these signs happen, stand up straight, keep your chin up and stand firm in the promise made to us, because our redemption is at hand. This is why we shouldn’t be afraid. Why we shouldn’t fear anything around us. Nothing nature or man can do, can separate us from God’s love. Only we can separate ourselves from God.
None of us want to be separated from God, cut off from his love and mercy. But we find ourselves separated from God when we let our hearts focus on things of this world instead of on things of heaven. The Gospel says “drowsy from carousing and drunkenness.” Yes it means partying and getting drunk all the time. But it also means doing anything that takes us away from doing what we should be doing – bringing the Kingdom of God to those around us. It also says, “And from the anxieties of daily life.”
I can’t imagine anyone here being able to relate to that, so let me help. Anxieties of daily life – what am I going to wear today? I can’t wear that, I’ve worn that out in public before. What will people think if they see that I don’t have the latest fashions? What will they think if I am not driving the fanciest new car? What will they think if they come over and my carpet isn’t the cleanest or my furniture top of the line, or my dishes don’t match, or they find out my son is gay, or my dog meows instead of barking. On and on and on.
And yes, the daily anxieties of where is the money coming to buy food and pay the bills. I can either pay this bill or get my prescriptions filled. Or I can pay the light bill or the gas bill. These are real and valid concerns.
But as Christians we have the comfort and the promise that these things are passing. Our hope, our joy, is not contained solely in the here and now. We keep watch and we wait, because our hope, our joy is yet to come. It will come after this life.
For now we need to be focused on what we can do right here, right now to help God’s Kingdom here on earth grow.
What aspects of your daily life hinder your expression of love for God and for your neighbors?
What steps can you take this week to help bring Christ’s mercy to all you meet?
We Are Called to Heal
- Written by Shane Neese