First Sunday of Advent (November 27, 2016)

God's great plan is to bring all creation to unity and perfection in His love. Advent is a time for us to get in touch with the history of His plan so that we can celebrate the coming of God among us in Jesus and renew ourselves as we work to bring God's plan to completion.

During Advent, we will hear the visions of restoration which the prophets foretold many centuries before Jesus came. Today we hear Isaiah proclaim that there will come a time when all people will come to the Lord "to learn his ways and walk in His paths." When people do that, everyone will begin to understand that universal peace can come only when we are willing to live in love.

When we understand the importance and value of putting on the Lord Jesus and making no provision for the desires of the flesh, then we will be able to take our weapons of war and turn them into tools for planting and harvesting.

It's all too easy for us to get caught up in the flow of day-to-day activities (like the people of Noah's time) and forget that God's plan of salvation continues and that we have a part to play in that plan. We need to be awake and watching - not out of fear, but because we don't want to miss the opportunities that God's grace will put in our path to help further his plan through the loving things we will be able to do for others and for ourselves.

Advent is a time for watchful anticipation for the many ways in which the Lord will enter our lives. It's a time for us to prune away the thoughts and attitudes which we let get in the way of grace. It's a time to be more attentive to the needs of others; they give us opportunities to love in a real way. It's a time for us to open up the dark places of our hearts to the light of Christ's love, and to reach out with His light to brighten the hearts of others.

May the watchful anticipation of our Advent prepare us to celebrate better the birth of Jesus, our Savior and friend.