What a Surprise it will be, the coming of the Lord.

My Sermon, preached this morning, at the Rotuman UCA, Drummoyne

Let us Pray
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

What a Surprise it will be – the coming of the Lord

Advent 1 27th November 2022. Image c/o HOPE UCA.

We hope for the Lord’s return and what a surprise it will be when He comes; because as we read in Matthew, we have no idea when this will be.

Last week, was the final week of the church’s Year and we celebrated Christ the King Sunday.

We realized that the King we worship is like none other because he did not wear a golden crown, nor sat on a throne, but hung from a cross upon which he gave his life as a penalty for the sin of the world to offer salvation to his subjects.

But Our King is a resurrected King who overcame death so that we, too, might rise from the dead.

Today we begin by contemplating a time shortly before our King began his mortal life.

December 25th was not Jesus’ birth date, we do not know when that was, it was not important when Jesus arrived, but it is his life, his, going and returning that shapes the Christian life.

At some time in the history of the church, it did become important to celebrate Jesus’ birth, since every famous person has a past, and we like to know when that was.

In the third century A.D., in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus identified the 25th of December as the date of Jesus’ Birth; at a later date, this became the accepted date.

Another argument is: that this day was a pagan feast chosen because it was the Christianising of the ‘dies solis invicti nati’ (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), This was a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun, the casting away of winter and the prefiguring of the rebirth of spring and summer.

We have reached the Season of Advent and the beginning of the year of Matthew’s Gospel. The Season of Advent is marked by the liturgical colour of Violet since, like Lent, Advent is a Season of Self-examination and Penitence.

Where we know we have not lived according to the love of Christ. We will pray to God our Father about it and try to make amends for our shortfalls.

I prefer not to use the word ‘SIN’ because as a former Catholic I was taught that Sin separates us from God, and this is true, but by sin, we should understand murder, rape, molestation, and more, rather than those occasions when we are less than we can be!

Each week during Advent, we will concentrate on one of four themes: HOPE, FAITH, JOY, and PEACE.

During this coming week we shall be thinking about what it is to HOPE. Are we hoping to get a much-desired Christmas Present, or do we hope for an experience as yet unannounced, such as the sudden reappearance of a long-lost loved one? (Hint)

We know when Christmas is, this year it falls on a Sunday, Christmas Day is a Certain HOPE, known for sure! Every 25th December is the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. At Hope Uniting we are holding what is traditionally known as Midnight Mass at 11.00 PM on the 24th of December. The first hour of Christ-mass.

The return of Jesus is an experience as yet imprecisely Announced, not even Jesus himself knows when he is returning, but our heavenly Father does; nevertheless, we have the HOPE and expectation that Jesus will return, that was his promise. And for this, we HOPE, as the Prophets have assured us throughout the Ages.

Isaiah tells Israel that when Jesus returns He shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. ( Isaiah 2.4 NRSV)
The Psalmist speaks of the joy of entering the house of God in the new Age to come (122.1 NRSV) How glad they will be to enter the house of God when the Kingdom has come.

His Kingdom shall come on Earth as he gave us to say in the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as in heaven.’

Recall the words of the angels at Bethany when Jesus made his Ascension into heaven: 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’(Acts 1:11 NRSV)

When speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus says
That the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30 NRSV)

But it is an elusive HOPE comprising false messiahs, and unreliable News ; that day will overtake us like a thief in the night. For as in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away. The same kinds of things will carry on today until the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24.38-39 NRSV) We could be watching a game of football, attending a birthday party or a wedding service, And if two guests are talking to each other, one of them will be taken into paradise while the other left for the judgement.

Jesus gives us the analogy of, the Strong Man, 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? (Matthew12.29) In this analogy, Satan is said to be the Strong Man and Jesus the Thief… Since 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says that Jesus will come like a thief in the night (NRSV)

How can we avoid being the one that remains?

In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul tells us how we must be ready. Epistles deal with the everyday life of the post-Resurrection Christians and their continued HOPE for Jesus’ return, we are post-resurrection Christians just as were they.

By Deeds if not by words

After what we have listened to today and thought about, we are aware that we must be alert since Jesus will come at any time, and we mustn’t be lazy or careless of our salvation, taking it for granted. We must interact with others and impress on them if we can, the need to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved from damnation, showing by how we live our lives that we are different, Christ-like, ready to put ourselves on the line for the love of others. For salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed that Jesus is the Saviour of humanity.

We must turn from any serious wrongdoing , falling short of the way Jesus taught us to live watching and praying for his coming. Putting aside shameful ways that offend God and others, trying with all our being to become pure in our minds, controlling our conduct. Waiting in HOPE for therealization of the Kingdom.