Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25 - 28)
Here on the First Sunday of Advent, we have Jesus talking about something strange. The end of the world? That's how some folks would interpret it.
Something is coming upon the world, but he doesn't say just what. Of course, placing this scripture on the first Sunday of Advent suggests that we think about Jesus as the "what" that is coming upon the world, because the "it" is our redemption.
This is the beauty of Advent. Something really awe-some is drawing near. And while some may be afraid, we who are beloved (and that is all of us whom God loves and pursues no matter how much we might resist or think we are unworthy) are to to raise up our heads, to look up in wonder and expectation, not down in fear and dread. What will be destroyed is injustice, not us. Our redemption, not our destruction, is headed this way.
Beauty continues in the words we use during this season. Today's wondrous phrase is "redemption is drawing near." Drawing near, perhaps quietly, perhaps shyly, perhaps steadily. The phrase suggests any and all of those interpretations. There is a magnetism, something irresistible, involved in drawing near.
For we not only draw near to God in our love and hope, but (and here's the theme of the incarnation, so pay attention) God draws near to us in love and hope as well.
And so this season of Advent, let us prepare for God to draw near to us, to make room in our hearts and make room in our lives and make room in the world for the love that heals and saves and is stronger than death.