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Spiritual Growth

Advent One: Are You Awake?

By Linda Douglas Smith

Scripture: Mark 13:24-37
“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.”

Reflection: Are you awake?

The season of Advent is upon us. Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means coming or arrival. The focus of the season of Advent is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ – his first Advent – and the anticipation of Jesus’ return – his second Advent.

Are you awake?

Dennis Bratcher, on the website www.crivoice.org, writes about Advent: “Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!”

Are you awake?

Mr. Bratcher continues, “It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant God sometimes seems, that brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over the world’s people and creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.”

Are you awake?

Remembering the past and anticipating the future, Advent also symbolizes an individual’s spiritual journey, affirming that, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” Our spiritual journey should be an active one, taking time for study and reflection on the word of God so we will be ready for Jesus’ return.

Are you awake?

Mark 13:35-37 says, “… 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.”

Are you awake?

Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

  • Take some time and reflect on your spiritual journey over the past year. Are you taking time for Bible study?
  • Are you ready for Advent Two?

Hymn: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” No. 196, The United Methodist Hymnal
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Prayer:
We praise You, O Lord, that You loved us so much that You made provision for forgiveness of sins. Thank you, Jesus, for coming and being faithful unto death, so we could have victory. Examine our hearts here today. May each of us be fully ready for the glorious Second Advent. Help us to be faithful in all things, and to witness to others of Your saving power. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen. (Christmas: Bells & Blessings by Hazel Jaycox Brown, p. 13)

*Linda Douglas Smith, Deaconess, Executive Secretary for Administration for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries.
 

Last Updated: 04/10/2010
 
 

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