“As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
1 Corinthians 11:26
Advent is our yearly check in.
Am I ready for the return of the Lord? How do I prepare?
At church yesterday, one person told me that until this sermon he had always feared the coming of the the Lord as a terror. In other words, Jesus is going to show up and ask everyone what the hell they have been doing. Maybe he’ll start asking questions like: Have you read the Bible yet? Did you get rid of that annoying high maintenance behavior? Will he frown and scold everyone for not being committed enough? How do I prepare? What if I am not prepared? Will I be judged and thrown into the lake of fire?
The answer of course is no.
Jesus knew what he was getting into when he saved you.
He knew you would only be partially formed into the renewed version of you that he is making. At his return, there will be mercy for us in all of our mess. This love forms us. This love does the heavy lifting. This is why one of the primary ways we are to celebrate Advent is to receive the Lord’s supper where we take bread, meditate on and consume that love.
That Eucharist has all the nutritional resources a sinner needs to experience love and give it. It humbles and lifts us at the same time.
When we eat and drink we share in His story. His life. When we take the bread we take it with open hands and receive it as a gift of grace. There is no exchange. Just a one way giving and a one way receiving. Gifts that are un-coerced and undeserved are the best. They usually hit you with surprise and reveal some forethought of the giver that for a moment makes you feel seen in a good way. In this Gift, we see that He saw us at our worst and with love and great cost gave his best. When you receive a gift like this it opens your heart to generosity to give to those around you. You are freed from the greed that takes all of your time, money and resources and you are unleashed to love. To proclaim love.
In other words, at All Souls church we are trying to prepare you for the end: whether it be death or his return. We do this in many ways, but perhaps the best moment in our gatherings is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” in the sacrament. Every Sunday is a recognition of “Advent” - a celebration of his first coming that reminds us of His second. Soon our body and mind absorb the story on subconscious levels. Repentance, love of the brothers and sisters and faith toward God begin to mark us.
The presence of a communion-eating church
is an argument for the risen Jesus.
Advent is a reminder of his support and correction. Advent reminds us that we will not always be fallen. Advent reminds us that he will heal it all.
What other time or season can or will the church ever have but that of Advent? -Karl Barth