Year B Advent 1 Mark 13
Getting Ready
Mark 13:24-37

It is hard for us to understand Jesus' delay in his coming. God's time clock is certainly out of sync with ours as Little Jimmy learned one day as he was laying on a hill in the middle of a meadow on a warm spring day. Puffy white clouds rolled by and he pondered their shape. Soon, he began to think about God.

"God? Are you really there?" Jimmy said out loud.

To his astonishment a voice came from the clouds. "Yes, Jimmy? What can I do for you?"

Seizing the opportunity, Jimmy asked, "God? What is a million years like to you?"

Knowing that Jimmy could not understand the concept of infinity, God responded in a manner to which Jimmy could relate. "A million years to me, Jimmy, is like a minute."

"Oh," said Jimmy. "Well, then, what's a million dollars like to you?" "A million dollars to me, Jimmy, is like a penny."

"Wow!" remarked Jimmy, getting an idea. "You're so generous... can I have one of your pennies?"

God replied, "Sure thing, Jimmy! Just a minute."

Little Jimmy wasn't ready for that response was he? Our text this morning seems an unlikely scripture for Advent. It has nothing to do with Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, of shepherds watching their flock. Instead it is story about a wealthy landowner going on a trip. The servants left behind were given charge of the estate and when the master returned he would check on their stewardship. It is a story about being prepared, getting ready. In that sense then this is an Advent story, for this is the season of preparedness. Consider with me a moment that...

  1. God Identifies with the Human Situation.
  2. Advent Is Time to Get Ready for the Return of Christ.

Merry Christmas or Happy Kitschmas?
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

When baby boomers finally got around to having babies of their own, like everything else about this "pig-in-the-python" generation, they put their own big footprint on the art and science of childbirth. Among the host of boomer books on natural childbirth, midwifery, home birthing, came a classic that is still in print today. Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Muzel co-authored the first of what would become a series of books entitled "What to Expect When You're Expecting." This straightforward, month-by-month reporting of a pregnancy answered big questions, small questions, and never inferred there were any "stupid" questions. The information offered in "What to Expect" calmed down several generations of anxious moms and dads to-be.

With the channel explosion of cable and satellite TV there is no longer any shortage of information on childbirth. There are multiple networks dedicated solely to telling "birth stories" following an expectant mom from the first bout of morning sickness right into the delivery room. You definitely no longer have to be growing up on a farm or have a dozen little brothers and sisters to have witnessed a live birth. On our new high-def flat screens, we can witness in great detail the miracle, and the mess, that brings about new life.

Philosopher/historian Hannah Arendt was a German Jew who lived through the rise and fall of the Nazi party and the horrors of the holocaust. She studied and scrutinized the all-too-familiar face of totalitarianism throughout the twentieth century. Arendt summed up her observation of Adolf Eichmann during the Nuremberg Trial after World War II by describing his actions and those of the Nazi regime as examples of "the banality of evil."

But Hannah Arendt also advocated that the philosophies we live by (for people of faith, our "theologies" more than "philosophies") should be based as much on formative powers of natality as on finalizing powers of mortality. Our stories of birth, she argued, should define us even more than our stories of death. Arendt realized that if you begin with the power of birth instead of mortality you take philosophy in a whole different direction!

The Western Christian liturgical calendar begins with Advent and with natality. The church calendar focuses our faith on... presents Leonard Sweet