In the Lectionary

November 27, First Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44

While we're preparing for Jesus' birth, these texts talk about getting ready for the Second Coming.

I am very good at meeting deadlines. So good that in certain situations, it can be a problem. My wife complains that we are always the first to show up at social gatherings. Even when we are intentional about being fashionably late, we still arrive too early.

These essays were due in September, and I met the deadline with time to spare. I began preparing them on July 18, the first night of the Republican National Convention. At the time, the news headlines were dominated by slogans like “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” and “Blue Lives Matter.” Black men had been shot and killed by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. Law enforcement officers were shot and killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Innocent civilians were massacred in Orlando and Paris. The Rio Olympics produced its share of victories and scandals. The stock market was jittery, employment rates stable. It felt like an extraordinary time. It took place during Ordinary Time.

And now Advent arrives. Like the first wintry storm, Advent abruptly disrupts our lengthy season of Ordinary Sundays. It presents a sharp contrast to the things that have become normal to us. We have settled for our current reality, gotten too comfortable with it. We are dangerously close to accepting the ordinary as normative, and then Advent comes and shocks us.