‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ Mark 13:24-37
Some 25 years ago, while attending Emmanuel and St. Chad in Saskatoon to obtain my theology degree, Suzanne and I became members of St. Stephens Anglican Church. On the first Sunday of Advent, a large banner went up in the church that proclaimed, “We are an expectant people!”
That began a journey that continues for me today. On the first Sunday of Advent I stop and ask myself, “What is it that I expect of God, and God expects of me, as we celebrate again the birth of Jesus and contemplate his return to this earth?”
This year my list includes things like some quiet time to think. I walk for an hour or more each morning through Ed Blake Park and the streets around. It’s usually before 7 am that I am out, so other than squirrels and rabbits there isn’t much stirring – except my spirit. It is amazing what can happen when we slow down and listen to God in silence.
It warmed my heart on Saturday to be part of the Community Breakfast at St. James. I volunteer twice a month at the Fellowship Center at St. Paul’s Cathedral and so many of the people were familiar to me. It is awe inspiring to see the level of community amongst these folks. They support and take care of each other. It always reminds me that this is a season for family and community.
I always try to write my Christmas Homily early and I have accomplished that already this year. It is important that we all recognize that Christmas is sometimes the only opportunity we have to present the Gospel to folks for whom church is not part of their regular routine. This season I always expect God will inspire and encourage me to reach out to all of God’s children.
There is much more I could say, but the key message here is the question for you. “What do you expect?”
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery