Happy New Year
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1.11
Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the liturgical year, that is to say: the annual cycle of Bible readings which takes us through the life of Jesus begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas - Advent Sunday. Advent comes from a Latin word meaning "arrival". At Christmas we celebrate God's arrival on earth in the birth of Jesus, who we refer to as the Son of God. In Advent we prepare for his return to judge the world and complete the process of reconciliation, bringing heaven to earth in a renewal of all creation.
What a future! What a story! What a way to introduce hope into the darkest of predicaments, while making sense of what is going on around us all. Preparing for the Lord's return is not so much about getting the furniture of our lives sorted out, as it is about preparing our hearts. The Lord himself made clear that preparing our hearts is not so much about emptying them of all frivolity (as if we could) but of filling them with love - for God, for others, for creation, for our enemies even. Far from inducing withdrawal from the world, the likely trajectory is outward into active engagement... with the very Kingdom-building priorities which Jesus is returning to fulfil!