Dr. Michael Layne
Greensburg Daily News
34 Don’t spend all of your time thinking about eating or drinking or worrying about life.
If you do, the final day will suddenly catch you 35 like a trap. That day will surprise everyone on earth. 36 Watch out and keep praying that you can escape all that is going to happen and that the Son of Man will be pleased with you.
Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent. Some may ask; What is Advent?
Before I talk about this week’s Gospel lesson, let me explain what Advent is. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio, “to come to,” and refers to the coming of Christ. This refers, first of all, to our celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas; but second, to the coming of Christ in our lives through grace and the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and finally, to His Second Coming at the end of time.
I grew up in a family that did not celebrate Advent because that was too Catholic. I guess you could say we were real separatists from Christian Orthodoxy. I had no idea what Advent was all about until later in my Christian experience.
It would seem that when the Reformation occurred in the 1500’s there was a tendency to not follow Christian custom, but to launch out into a new arena of Revelation and Inspiration. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, Revelation and Inspiration is a tremendous part of our Christian life and it is through understanding this, that our faith has been preserved for centuries.
Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas Day and during that time we should be aware of why it has been referred to as “Little Lent,” for as in Lent we should give ourselves to prayer, fasting and doing good deeds. I’ll deal with Lent as we approach Easter.
Many would say, “We should do the prayer, fasting and good deeds all the time.” That’s true, but to have a specified time during the year when we especially focus our life, efforts and faith in a designated direction really makes a huge difference.
Okay, we know about Christ’s birth and now we will not only celebrate His birth but we will also celebrate His coming into our lives and especially when we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. This is a great time to become a acutely aware of His presence in our lives.
Of course we also acknowledge His Second Coming is yet to happen and in this week’s Gospel lesson Luke talks about the end time and the surprise that will happen. It’s a surprise because we don’t know the hour in which He will return for the Church.
In a way, His second coming is a bit like our expectation at Christmas: we don’t know what we are receiving in the packages under the tree, but we know a gift has been given.
The most wonderful gift has been given to humanity and that is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ. During this wonderful time of Advent will you consider spending more time in prayer, fasting and doing good deeds? I’m not talking about getting hung up on ritual, but experiencing freedom in doing what is good and right.
As we attend our churches this first Sunday of Advent, some of you will not hear anything about this wonderful season. Please remember this article and each week follow the scripture that will be shared with you and just let the Holy Spirit give you direction as we approach Christmas. I think you will experience a spiritual renewal.
Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-662-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.