“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 the elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
“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.
The Necessity for Watchfulness
“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 NRSVUE
First Sunday of Advent
December 3, 2023
Advent is not the beginning of Christmas. And, to be honest, Christmas is not Christmas. Corporate interests and marketers stole Christmas long ago. What remains is a bonanza for retail sales and a hollow festival of conspicuous consumption.
Mark’s gospel tries to get our attention amid the holiday clamor on the first Sunday of Advent. Suffering. A dark sun. A dark moon. Falling stars. A shaken heaven. This ain’t Santa. This is the Son of Man returning to inaugurate God’s reign of justice and peace and beauty upon the earth. No one will remain the same. Nothing will remain the same.
Mark’s language can’t be trapped on greeting cards or used to sell cars or computers. There is no birth story for American Greetings or Hallmark to manipulate.
Advent is the season to open our eyes and to see that God is always coming. Sometimes in the clouds, as in Mark’s gospel. Sometimes in the cries of a socio-politically marginalized infant, the son of an unwed teenaged mother, who enters the world in a barn and exits the world as an executed victim of empire. But, even that infant shall return.
God keeps coming. The fig tree bears witness. God keeps coming. Keep alert. Corporate Christmas is trying to lull us to sleep. Stay woke! See God coming!
Reverend William H. Lamar IV
Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
*re-submitted after being printed in 2020 for its timely relevance 3 years later
Prayer: God, corporate interests and marketers are trying to lull us to sleep. Keep us alert. Keep us woke. Show us where you are at work overthrowing the powers, principalities, empires, and emperors of our day. You are God. They are puppets and pretenders. Amen.
Advent Guide 2023
As we stand in expectation of peace on Earth and reflect on the events of our times and the lives of our brothers, sisters and siblings in Christ, we await change and new birth.
We seek, listen and perceive the presence of God in words of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
We invite you to join us in meditation, reflection, prayer and spiritual disciplines throughout the season of Advent and beyond.
Read along with us each day or download the book to read and reflect along with us offline.