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Are We There Yet?




First Sunday of Advent

Luke 21:25-36


If you’ve ever traveled with children, then you’ve probably played the game, “Are we there yet?”


Infuriating, isn’t it!? When our boys were young we couldn’t make it out of Troup County without someone asking, “Are we there, yet?”


Usually, I’d say something like “DON’T ASK THAT QUESTION AGAIN.” But sometimes, I’d say... “Not yet.” Or, “Almost.” Then we’d start trying to distract the kids, by counting license plates... or playing “I spy something purple!” Anything to keep them from asking that dreaded question again.


This morning, to make sure you stay awake during the sermon, we’ll be playing this game together! I will ask you “are we there yet?” Your response will be “Almost!”


Let’s practice: Are we there yet? Almost!


Now, I know you’re wondering what this has to do with my sermon? Well, it has to do with the season we just started.


Of course, today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent’s a journey. A four-week journey... as we make our way to Christmas. The word “Advent” means “coming” - and implies that something is approaching or arriving - specifically for us, it’s a reference to the coming of Christ.


And when we think of Advent, we usually focus on the FIRST coming of Christ... his birth, in other words. With the Manger and Shepherds and a Star hovering over Bethlehem. But, Advent has a deeper meaning...


Let’s try to think of Advent in terms of Christ’s coming into our lives... time and again... Christ comes to our lives through the spoken Word every Sunday as we gather for worship. And Christ comes into our lives everyday, as we read God’s Word and as we pray - as we strive to live for Jesus every day there’s a continual “advent” of Christ in our lives... Christ comes to our lives every moment. That means - in a very real way - we are living Advent every day.


Advent is also about the second coming of Christ to this world to judge the living and dead. The Future Advent of Christ will once and for all “make all things new” and will establish God’s Kingdom in fullness, in totality.


Are we there yet? Almost!


In other words, Advent is about the past, present and future coming of Christ. It’s a journey of waiting for the coming of Christ. We’re waiting for Dec. 25th... we’re waiting for Christ to enter our present circumstances... and we’re waiting for the day when Christ will make all things new.


We all know that most journeys demand a certain level of patience. Take any extended trip, and you’ll more than likely do some waiting. Waiting in traffic... waiting in line at the airport... waiting for your whatever... Some trips require a lot of waiting and preparation well in advance of the trip itself! You have to set your travel dates... wait for your passport... wait for your vacation time to kick in. It’s just how things are...


The season of Advent is a unique journey of preparation, because we’re traveling alongside the One we’re expectantly waiting to come!


Are we there yet? Almost!


Of course, Advent is pretty much completely ignored by most people in our day, because, truth be told, we’re in such a hurry for Christmas that we don’t bother to prepare (at least spiritually speaking), and we don’t bother to wait, for any of it. Radio stations have already been playing Christmas music for two weeks... if not longer. Christmas lights were put up around town the first of November.


We live in a culture that refuses to wait. Everything is about now... and right now. In the modern church, we’ve almost completely abandoned the concept of penitence and repentance and fasting as part of Advent... as earlier Christians did.


Advent is not a Christmas shopping season. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying we don’t need to shop but we need to make sure that mainly it is the time of preparing and waiting. If we experience the waiting, our joy will be real when we meet our Lord.


Are we there yet? Almost!


Our Scripture stresses the importance of signs. Again... if you’ve ever traveled much - especially before the days of GPS and Google Maps, you had to follow the signs along the way.


We even know when we’ve finally arrived at our destination when we see the city limit sign, or the welcome to Walt Disney World sign. Signs are important.


But not every directional sign means we’ve arrived... The sign that reads “Atlanta 75 miles” lets us know we still have a ways to go before reaching our destination.


Jesus said, “So also when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” As we travel this life, with Christ... waiting for the final destination, the completion of our journey, God does not leave us without a sign. As we read in the gospel before coming of Christ there will be all kinds of signs... and we can watch the news, and look at the world around us, and see signs aplenty! BUT...


Are we there yet? Almost.


Advent would be so easy... IF... all it meant, was for us to remember the past... the first coming of Christ as a baby, and to mark off the days leading to his birth.


Our challenge is live the present and the future aspects of Advent where we wait for our redemption. For people who are suffering... who are being persecuted... who are chronically ill... or grieving... waiting for the coming joy can be the most difficult journey of all. People who are suffering long for deliverance...


I can hear them crying out, “are we there yet?” “Almost?”


The Gospel is Good News, and offers us Good News as we wait for our redemption in Christ: “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads - because your redemption is drawing near.” Our Redemption is near. It sounds like “almost there.”

Are we there yet? Almost!


Amen.

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