Happy New Year! We are such a weird group of people aren’t we?! Episcopalians and other liturgical churches move to the beat of a different drummer – particularly with the calendar. Today is the beginning of our new liturgical year. Last year (last week) we were still in Year B, but today we begin Year C – we will get a lot of Luke this year! If you follow the Daily Cycle, you will begin Year One. Today we also switch the Prayers of the People and the Eucharistic Prayer. (stand or kneel). So here we are celebrating the New Year before Advent and before Christmas.
The world out there began celebrating Christmas before the turkeys had cooled – some even before the jack o’lanterns were extinguished. Every store and restaurant has Christmas decorations and Christmas music – it’s a cacophony of lights, colors and noise out there. But here we are again being counter-cultural. Today is also the first Sunday of Advent.
Advent is a season of hopeful waiting. Jesus tells us today in the Gospel to be alert – I used to have a t-shirt that said “Be Alert – the world needs more Lerts.” Being alert is different than being overwhelmed – different than the manic nervous energy we can see all around us. What does being alert look like?
· Prepared – not afraid – peaceful – “It is unfortunate that we can secure peace only by preparing for war” John F Kennedy.
· Look up – Lift Your Heads – when we are prepared, we can look with hope
· Clear our hearts of
o Dissipation – too much energy used without a real accomplishment
o Drunkenness – addictions, power, control
o Worry – what?? How does worry make this list? Dissipations and Drunkenness are the opposite of Stewardship. Worry is the opposite of Faith
· Do not fear – get ready and stay ready
How do we go about being counter-cultural? Being good stewards of our time talent and treasure – not worrying – and praying. This is how Jesus calls into a Holy Advent. It is a specific list that we get today. It doesn’t mean that we cannot decorate our homes and enjoy holiday gatherings. We do not have to be Scrooge in the midst of the holiday gaity. Instead think of it as permission to go slower – to be mindful – to make connections – to prepare your soul – to meditate – to pray for God’s will to be done in your life. Pray about what you can do to draw evermore close to the God who loves you more then you can ask or imagine.
I invite you therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observation of a Holy Advent, by preparation and prayer; by self-denial of dissipation, drunkenness and worry; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. May it be a season of hopeful expectation in your life and in the life of St Martin. Amen.