As we prepare for the First Sunday of Advent in Year C1, we invite you to participate with us throughout the year adding your comments and reflections within each post in the Lectionary Series, or as you create a small group and journey with Jesus in a chronological study in the Harmony of the Gospels.

In this season of advent we’ll be focusing in on the virtues of hope, love, peace and joy. These virtues are the mandate of every soul, but sadly since the dawn of humanity people have sought to satisfy their desire for such in all sorts of manner, but none will suffice save those who adventure forward with Christ, the new dawn.
Advent 1-Hope
Collect:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Gospel Reading:  

Luke 21:25-36 | Harmony of the Gospels, Sections 139d,e,f2

Section 139d

Matthew 24:29-31
29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; 30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.3
Mark 13:24-27
24 But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, 25 the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

27 Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

Luke 21:25-27
25 There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars;4 and on the earth anxiety of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the waves; 26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.5

Section 139e

Matthew 24:32-41

 

32 “Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and produces its leaves, you know that the summer is near. 33 Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 “As the days of Noah were, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 39 and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one will be left.

Mark 13:28-32

 

28 “Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and produces its leaves,6  you know that the summer is near; 29 even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors. 30 Most certainly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Luke 21:28-33
28 But when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”7 29 He told them a parable. “See the fig tree8 and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see it and know by your own selves that the summer is already near. 31 Even so you also, when you see these things happening, know that God’s Kingdom is near.9 32 Most certainly I tell you, this generation10 will not pass away until all things are accomplished. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.11

Section 139e

Matthew 24:42-43

 

 

42 Watch therefore, for you don’t know in what hour your Lord comes.

 

 

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.12

Mark 13:33-37
33 Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is. 34 “It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you don’t know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning; 36 lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping. 37 What I tell you, I tell all: Watch.”
Luke 21:34-36
34 “So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life,13 and that day will come on you suddenly. 35 For it will come like a snare on all those who dwell on the surface of all the earth. 36 Therefore be watchful all the time, praying that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Group Dialog:

  1. What was the context of this discourse? Where was Jesus and what was about to happen?
  2. When you read verses about the end times, what feelings are stirred within you? Are they negative or positive? Aware of such emotion and thought, what do you feel compelled to do, accomplish, change, or say?
  3. What are your concerns and questions about the end times?
  4. Is it important for Christians today believe in the second coming?  Why?
  5. What aspects of your life (issues, secrets, goals, etc.) makes you anxious. What do you do when you’re under pressure and feeling anxious? In such times, what activities and spiritual disciplines help you re-establish a sense of faith, hope and love?
  6. What encouragement does Jesus give his disciples then and now? Read: Psalm 10:16-18; I Thessalonians 3:9-13; II Thessalonians 2:13-17; I Peter 5:6-9.
  7. How do Old Testament prophecies describe the end times? Read Isaiah 13:9-10; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Joel 2:30-31.
  8. How does Jesus describe His return? Compare this passage with John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; I Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 1:7.
  9. What eschatological view14 do you hold? Is it essential for us to agree on this topic?

Image: 1 of 5 part image theme we’ll present in this Advent mini-series. Depending on your church’s traditions and appreciation for liturgical arts you may see (or recall) an advent candle. The first candle lit is sometimes called the “candle of prophecy” as by it we remember the message of the Old testament prophets, who foretold the Messiah’s birth. Others call it the “hope candle” recognizing that we who are in Christ, have a wellspring of hope which lights the path and illuminates God’s Word to enliven our souls.


Learning Objectives:

A responsible response in light of Jesus second coming. Let hope be well rooted and produce spiritual fruit throughout your life by the power of God’s grace at work in you.


“Unless you can read the Bible right, unless you can understand salvation by grace, you’ll never have a sure and certain hope. But once you understand it’s all about me, Jesus Christ, then you can know that you have peace. You can know that you have this future guaranteed, and you can face anything.” – Tim Keller


Notes:

  1. In Year C the Gospel readings are from Luke the Evangelist. A native Antioch in Syria, He was raised in a Hellenistic community, but found his life transformed and set forth in faith to investigate the accounts of people’s encounters with Jesus and the life of the early church.  He was both a doctor and a disciple.
  2. The assigned Gospel reading for this first Sunday of Advent, just as we are awaiting Jesus’ birth, takes place at the end of his ministry, on the Tuesday of Holy Week days before his death.
  3. According to a poll in 2010 nearly half of Christian Americans believe that Christ will return to Earth before 2050.
  4. CR Isaiah 13:9-11, 2 Peter 3:10-12, Revelation 1:7; 6:12-14 and thus we have reason to ponder on the appointed Psalm for this Sunday: Psalm 25:1-9.
  5. Its perhaps the most fanciful part of this Advent reading as we ponder the Christ child who was (will be) incarnate there under the stars so will He come again with signs and wonders. The lectionary season (Year C) begins as some movies do with a flash forward of what will be, and the story will reveal the jarring and jaw dropping moments what will come.
  6. The fig tree is the emblem of Israel. Its most peculiar and poetic when thinking of Jesus’ life and his second coming to consider that the blossoms of the fig tree appear before the leaves. In the spring the buds appear on the older branches and then the leaves appear, and finally the first fruits ripen in mid June. Their is often fruit which remains unripened well into autumn, which often survives the winter months and then ripens in the early spring. There is in this a wonderful metaphor for the second coming, and God – the Hope of Israel and all peoples.
  7. Who is the guarantor of our inheritance? From whence comes our help? CR Ephesians 1:4; 4:30; Psalm 121:1; Isaiah 25:8-9; 60:1-2.
  8. This passage is most likely stirring thoughts of the fig tree which Jesus had cursed. CR Section 129a and also the first lesson he taught his disciples after seeing it withered in Section 131.
  9. CR Matthew 3:2; 16:1-4; Hebrews 10:26-27
  10. While in this time a lifespan lasted 70 – 80 years, we should consider the poetic implications of the phrase popular back then that “a thousand years is like a day” (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). While some aim to predict or declare that the time is here or then; all we can say is that it is closer now than it ever has been. Do then, what the Lord asks, commands, and take hold of the life, wisdom, and spiritual power which God has made possible for those who abide in Christ and keep step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).
  11. CR Isaiah 40:8; 2 Peter 3:7-14
  12. As some have great anxiety about the end times, the quality and length of their life, and the assurance of what comes after death, this is an important topic still today. When the Gospels were being written, some people were concerned that Jesus had already returned and they had missed him (think back to the movie, Left Behind). Paul specifically addressed the emotions and commotion throughout the church in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4) to help them understand the facts, the signs, and get prepared. The church needs to help people be prepared, have assurance of faith, watching for the signs, and encouraging one another in the faith. See also: The Covenant Conundrum: How Affirming an Eschatological Ecclesiology Could Help the Anglican Communion, by Scott MacDougall
  13. CR 1 Peter 4:3-7; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Heb 12:15; Galatians 5:19-21; Rom 13:11-13; Ephesians 6:13-14; Revelation 3:3
  14. For an array of articles on the end times you might enjoy reading through the articles published by Christian Research Institute (CRI).