I Advent

December 2, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Today we begin our Advent Sermon Series with the topic, “Preparing for Christ in the Past”.  This has been interesting for me to think about.   How do we prepare for something that has already happened? 

I think that the way that makes most sense to me is to begin with the idea of God and time.  We exist in time and space.  We have lived yesterday, we live today, and we will anticipate living in the future.  We are bound by the constrictions of time.

If you are like me, there are numerous examples of things in my life that I would love to be able to go back and do over.  One of the most recent examples is the decision that led to my fall last October and the fracture of my humorous.  I am sure that you can think of things that you would love the opportunity to go back and do again.

But we are bound by the laws of physics which prevent us from time travel.  I am a great lover of science fiction, and enjoy, for example Dr. Who and the adventures in time travel.  But that is not the reality in which we live.  So, we are bound by time and space.

God exists in eternity.  In eternity there is not fixed time.  There is no linear time, like the time we experience.  In other words, God is not bound by time as we are.

This becomes very important as we think about preparing for Christ in the past because at Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.  What this means is the God, who exists in eternity, chose to become one with us, who exist in time and space.  God, who is limitless, chose to become one with we who are limited.

Hold that thought.  I would now like to change gears for a few moments and talk about the Eucharist.  You may wonder what this has to do with preparing for Christ in the past, but I hope to make that clear in a moment.

I remember the first time that I was presented with the idea that the Eucharist is something which both happens in time and space and transcends time and space at the same time.  In the Eucharist, we are experiencing the actions while we are here at St. Paul’s on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018. 

But, we are also being connected to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross two thousand years ago.  As we have read in the Letter to the Hebrews in the past few months, Jesus was sacrificed once for all – unlike the sacrifices of animals in former times.  And yet this sacrifice is also present as we partake of Jesus’ Body and Blood today.

Not only is it the sacrifice of Jesus two thousand years ago, but the Eucharist is also a foretaste of the heavenly banquet at the end of time.  And, as if that is not enough, it is also connected with every Eucharist that has ever been celebrated from the last supper until today.

In other words the Eucharist is both in time and timeless at the same time.  Let that sink in for a moment.

The only way that this can be true is because in the incarnation, God (who is timeless) takes upon Himself our flesh (which is bound by time and space).

All this is to say that when we prepare during Advent, it is possible for us to prepare for an event which already happened – the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

How do we do this?  We prepare by examining our lives and our relationships with God, our neighbor, and ourselves.  We celebrate that which is good, and we repent where we fall short.

I guess that we can be a bit like Dr. Who anyway!  AMEN.