This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.  Isaiah 2:1-5

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:36-44

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity. Psalm 122

Be prepared! For the King, our Saviour, draweth nigh!

Lectionary Life App, First Sunday of AdventBe prepared: Several years ago now, I was attending a Christmas Party at my parent’s house in CT. At some point during the party, my Goddaughter asked everyone to listen as she recited the Lord’s Prayer for us from memory. She was about four (although now she is about 30). She began, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name…”. “So far so good”, I thought. I was a proud Godfather. Suddenly, she shifted from the traditional version to the following, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done…you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout…but deliver us from evil. Amen”. We all laughed and exclaimed enthusiastically, “Amen”! I remember thinking, “Well, that’s one way to look at the Second Coming of Jesus”. You better “watch” out. The Great Day of His kingdom is coming, and we better be prepared. We are to keep watch for the coming of our Lord.

Advent is a season of preparation in which the people of God prepare for the coming of the Saviour. He comes to us in many ways: in the fellowship of the Church, through the proclamation of His Word, through the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, in the person to whom we minister and at the time of our death. Primarily, however, the Church, as the Bride of Christ in the world, prepares for the coming of her Groom from heaven on the Great Day. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…” (RSV: Revelation 19:7). We are to make ourselves ready, like a Bride preparing to meet her Groom on her wedding day; the day which she has, with much anticipated joy and hope, eagerly awaited. Thus, Advent is primarily a season of preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31). Our Lord is in the world now – through His Church – as the Divine Physician, the healer of our bodies and souls. However, the day is coming when He will return as the Great and Divine Judge. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). This He said in reference to His death and resurrection. Indeed, through His incarnation LIFE has conquered death and has become the final word in this world. We will see the fulfillment of all things and the fruition of this divine gift of life on the day of the Second Coming. But when will He come? When will this occur?

The Scriptures are clear. We do not know the day or the hour, “[A]s to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). We should not spend our time wondering about when He shall come, but in continual preparation for His coming. We are to keep watch for the Great Day in which death succumbs to life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). After that, the Kingdom of Life – which has overthrown the kingdom of death – shall reign and of His Kingdom, there shall be no end!

The second Lesson for today reminds us, “[S]alvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near” (Romans 13:11b-12a). Thus, His coming is nearer now than when you first begin reading this reflection.

How are we to prepare? Colossians 3:2-4 states, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” These verses in God’s word remind us that our “life is hid with Christ in God”. Our life is found in Christ, in His person. We are not to be persons of the world, but persons of the Word; the word of life. “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

Lord, thank you for the season of Advent. Help us Holy Spirit set our minds on life and peace and not get distracted and disgruntled with ‘holiday’ preparations. Show us how to share the gift of your salvation, so that when you come back, all will be found righteous. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Written by Rev. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life’s National Director and Pastoral Associate of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign co-sponsored by Anglicans for Life and Priests for Life.