I guess this is a case of better late than never. The first Sunday of Advent was December 3, but I was sick earlier this week and fell behind. Here is a meditation for the first Sunday of Advent.

Zechariah 14:4-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2; Luke 21:25-38

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We are starting a new year, new beginning, a new time of looking both back and forward. This is a new time to once again birth the holy in our lives. Once again we are called to reorder our lives around the Savior as Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi did.

Our passages today remind us that God is sovereign. God is the one who is in control. In Zechariah’s day, the Jews had returned to Judah from exile in Babylon then Persia. They had rebuilt the Temple, they were offering sacrifices, and yet they were still a vassal state under a pagan world power. The Messiah had not come; God’s reign was not here. What of the promises of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? Zechariah reassured the people that God had not forgotten them or his promises to them. God would keep his word, and he would come to Jerusalem to put things right.

In our Gospel reading, the Messiah is here, but he is not what the people were looking for. He does not overthrow the Roman government, and yet he declares that “The kingdom of God is at hand.” He declares that even under foreign occupation that the kingdom of God has broken into this world, and is now growing. In Luke 21 Jesus once again shocks (and scandalizes) his followers by declaring that the Temple would be destroyed. Sometimes when the Messiah comes, he is not what we expect.

In his letter Paul tells us how to live while we wait: to increase in our love for one another and be found blameless. With Paul and the Thessalonians we live looking for the return of our Savior. He tells us not to waste time on speculation but to do the things that Jesus commanded us to do: Love God and obey him and love and serve each other.

Where are you this Advent? Are you wondering where God is and where his peace is in our violent world? Is Jesus not who you expected? Is he asking you to trust him and his nutty ideas? Spend this season waiting on God and listening to what his Spirit says to you. Then go out and do as Paul always did: Love God and others and dedicate yourself to growing and abounding in your love for God and the people he has placed in your life.