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1st Sunday of Advent
Thanksgiving USA


 


[Resources for Advent 1] [Resources for Thanksgiving]
 

Sermon Excerpt: Still Waiting, Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-37 by Richard Gehring

Here we are, the last day of the month of November.  Thanksgiving is now past, although some of us still may have family to gather with and more turkey to eat.  Our church calendar, however, tells us that this is the beginning of the season known as Advent.  It is a season that has been observed by the church, in one form or another, for more than 1600 years.  The earliest record we have of the celebration of Advent comes from Spain around the year 380 when a law was passed prohibiting anyone from being absent from church between December 17 and January 6, the day of Epiphany.  Eventually, the season was extended to include the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, December 25.

            But while we may know when Advent is, we aren't always sure exactly what it is all about.  I looked up the word "advent" in the dictionary and found this definition:  "The coming or arrival, especially of something awaited or momentous."  That definition immediately raises a number of questions for me.  What is it that arrives during this Advent season?  What is coming?  What momentous event do we await?

The simple answer to this question is that Advent is the time of waiting for Christmas.  But this is not an answer that I find completely satisfactory.  Why do we need to spend four weeks waiting for one day?  On the other hand, why start waiting now when Christmas decorations have been up in stores and carols have been playing at the mall for a whole month now?

Our two scripture texts for this morning are both addressed to people who, unlike us, were accustomed to waiting.  The Isaiah passage most likely was written during or immediately after the time of the Babylonian exile.  The people of Israel had been utterly defeated, their leaders taken away as captives to a foreign land, their cities destroyed and their temple ransacked and burned.  And even after their oppressors were defeated and the nobility were allowed to return home, they were still not an independent nation, and it was some time before the temple was rebuilt. 

So the people waited.  They waited for the restoration of their once proud glory as a sovereign kingdom... DPS Subscribers: click here to access all resources