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Todd Williamson

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D. Todd Williamson is the Director of the Office for Divine Worship.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Maybe it will be today…

How many of us pray for the end of the world? How many of us actually look forward to the end of time? How many of us consciously long for the moment when all time will cease and the Reign of God will actually and fully be in our midst? Most likely this is something that not many of us think of very often.

Yet in the Advent / Christmas cycle, we find ourselves in the midst of a time in our Church’s liturgical year, half of which is devoted to the very idea of looking forward to “the end of time.” Just listen to the words of the liturgy which we pray every Sunday, week in and week out: “Lord Jesus, you will come in glory with salvation for your people...” (Penitential Rite) “He [Christ] will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead...” (Profession of Faith) “As we look forward to his second coming, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.” (Eucharistic Prayer III) “We remember Christ’s death...and as we look forward to his second coming..” (Eucharistic Prayer IV), “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ…” (the embolism after the Lord’s Prayer).

We hear the same tone in the readings of Advent for this year! Here’s what we heard on the First Sunday of Advent:

  • Jeremiah: “The days are coming, says the Lord….”
  • Paul to the Thessalonians: “be blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus…”
  • Gospel: “Beware that your hearts not become drowsy and that day catch you by surprise. For that day will assault everyone…”

And here’s what we’ll hear this week, on the Second Sunday:

  • Baruch: “Stop mourning Jerusalem! Look to the east…for God has wrapped you in splendor…God is leading you!…”
  • Paul to the Philippians: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus…”
  • Gospel: “Prepare the way of the Lord!….all flesh will see the salvation of God!”

Then, the Third Sunday:

  • Zephaniah: “On that day, it shall be said of Jerusalem…Fear not! The Lord God is in your midst!”
  • Paul to the Philippians: “The Lord is near!”
  • Notice in the Gospel for this Sunday there is more “flesh” put upon the theology of the readings:
    • Gospel: “All were filled with expectation…wondering if John were the Christ” (THAT IS: Wondering if the Christ were in their midst!!”)

Finally, on the Fourth Sunday (Where you have a concentration primarily on the INCARNATION at Bethlehem)

  • Micah (the only time we hear Micah on a Sunday): “NOW…the Lord’s greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth…he shall be peace…”
  • Hebrews: “When Christ came into the world…we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ…”
  • Gospel: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled…”

Every year, during the season of Advent, we're reminded of this element of our faith, this aspect of our liturgies: part of being a Christian, a member of the baptized, is to keep one eye focused on now, and the other eye focused on that final day -  “the day of the Lord," as the Prophets called it.  And more than that, to look forward to that day; to actually pray – daily – that it come and that it come quickly!

Even though many would think this something to avoid (the end of time, the end of the world) you have to admit: the idea can sound somewhat attractive - to see the end of life as we know it now, with its pain, with its suffering, with its trials and struggles, and to have it all (including each of us) be recreated by God; made anew - to have everything as it is now be so engulfed and surrounded by the fullness of God’s love (which can seem to be so missing in today’s world) that it is, literally, a new creation because of it.

"Come, Lord Jesus!"

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