Taking back Advent
Luke 21:25-36

Has anyone noticed how much is going on at the moment?  The days and weeks seem to be running together and there doesn’t seem to be any respite.  We live in a high pressure, high demand society, it seems that Christmas just accentuates that pressure.  Our Gospel reading today doesn’t ease that pressure much for us either, or does it?

We are called to be on guard for the day is coming when heaven and earth will pass away.  Don’t be trapped when the day comes unexpectedly, be prepared.  The day is coming and we don’t know when, we shouldn’t be caught in drunkenness and dissipation or the worries of this life.  Does anyone know what dissipation means?  I didn’t and had to look it up, apparently it is the effects of drunkenness; we would possibly interpret it as having a hangover. How are you doing with that? Is anyone feeling a bit nauseous or suffering from headaches, a bit worried and stressed?  Are you having difficulty switching off the worries?

I have to admit spending a large part of the trip home from Canberra on Friday contemplating the various things that I need to get done between now and Christmas and even the things we need to do as a congregation in the coming months.  Do you ever get that melancholy feeling and feel almost comfortable in it?  I had a bit of that, but Jesus is warning us through Luke that we shouldn’t get weighed down with worry, we should snap out of it, be alert and pray that we will have the strength to escape the things that will take place.

There’s a lot to learn right there, pray that we might have strength!  That’s usually the last thing most of us want to do, stop for a bit and pray.  I did do a fair bit of praying over the last week, why, because I needed to and because I’m called to do it!  So are you!  Advent seems to be a busier season each year; we try to fit more things in.  I’ve heard people say that they are already having staff Christmas functions. People are trying to fit so much in that Christmas is now celebrated in mid to late November.

This is nuts!  We need to claim Christmas back, we need to make the switch back so that we can spend the four weeks leading up to Christmas in joyful anticipation of celebration.  And then when we do get to Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ with rejoicing and thanksgiving, not breathing a sigh of relief because it’s all over and we’ve crossed the finish line again.

Along with the rest of the Advent Conspiracy movement, I want us to claim back Christmas for Christ, to spend the time of Advent rebelling against the consumerism and stresses, to use advent to WORSHIP God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water though; after all we should be conserving water anyway!  Yes there are traditions at Christmas, like gift giving, decorations, sharing family time together, these are not inherently bad, in fact they are wonderful things to do and enjoy.  But as we go about them lets remember why we are doing them, let’s remember where these traditions came from and what we are doing them for.  Let them be a reminder of Jesus Christ who came into the world as a baby, who was wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger.  His sole purpose was redemption, to take our sins upon himself and take them to the cross, to suffer for our sake.

He is the light that came into the world to save us, as you see Christmas lights on houses and in shopping centres and even in Churches, remember that fact.  Use all of these things to remind you of Jesus and the true story of Christmas.  Even as you watch TV commercials like the latest Woolworths one with all of the family arriving, and the hosts trying to scratch together enough dusty chairs for everyone to sit on.  As the family sit down to share a meal together, remember the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples at his last supper.  He gave us a gift that night that we share weekly with one another and the whole church on earth.  We will share it today and again on Christmas day.

Yes Christmas is about family and food and fun, in a somewhat secular way that is right, but it is also about the Father’s gift to us through his son, so that all people might have eternal life, through forgiveness of sins.  As we journey together through this advent season I want to encourage daily worship time, that’s why we are handing out Advent devotional booklets today.  To give you a resource to turn to and encourage a daily time of reflection on the Son of God who came into the world.

The first devotion in the book is based on Isaiah 53:6 that’s what the children sang for us earlier in the service, “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way.”  Let’s spend the next four weeks of the advent season turning back to God, giving back to him through prayer, praise and thanksgiving, worshiping him and giving honour to his glorious name.  Let’s take this journey together, with the help of God and win back this season and the celebration of Christmas for the one that it was named after, Jesus Christ, Son of God, our saviour and redeemer.

Amen.