These are the notes of The Revd Arnold Bush in preparation for his homily at Episcopal Church of the Epiphany November 27, 2011. His text was as follows:
Jesus said to his disciples, “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.”
The Three “A’s” of Advent
Sermon notes by the Rev. Arnold A. Bush, Priest in charge, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Tallassee, AL, 1st Sun. in Advent, November 27,2011
In the Gospel we have the Parable of the Doorman: Not knowing when he Master will return but he must me AWAKE. There are three functions, actions the Doorman my do during the night hours. Remember this is a pre-electricity world. Not late TV, no late reading, not late meals. When darkness came in the first century, ALL BEDDED DOWN UNTIL THE DAYLIGHT OF THE DAWN.
The Watchman did three things were: (1)Watch for any threats to the village. (21) Waiting in the long hours of darkness. (3) Tend the fire. They had no kerosene, fire logs, natural gas heat. Tend the fire to keep our relationship with Christ warm with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Advent is translated “coming”. There are three “comings”: The coming of God in the persons of Jesus of Nazareth. Second the coming of Jesus within our Sacraments and Prayers. And lastley the coming of Jesus in the Last Days, End of Time. All three themes are repeated in ADVENT.
I Be alert at all times…
In all synoptic gospels the signs of the end times are listed. Many are being impatient. But, Jesus says be alert to false Messiahs and false prophets. How can we be ready?
• Keep relationship with Jesus vital and alive…Keep running with Jesus with an ongoing conversation with Christ. C.S. Lewis states part of our work as Christians is to keep alive our personal faith this side of the grave. Our vital faith is our entrance into heaven.
• Do not pack bitterness and grudges in your suitcase… Do not place you past grudges in a box or hide them in a closet. They can come out of the closet when we least expect then to bit us. Live a life of forgiveness. See Denis Mayard’s little book. Forgiveness and Get Your Life Back.
• Do an inventory of your help to the needy… Gospel last Sunday: ‘The Least of these the hungry, the thirsty, those sick or in prison, or lonely,etc…” In serving those in need, we are alert to the face of Jesus in the person we are serving food or giving them beans and rice.
• In the Eucharist remember: “ as we eat … we live forever”
John 5 and 6, “ I am the bread of life…” We are here this morning to taste of the Living Bread of Life. Are we alert to God who is here in this Eucharist and in every Eucharist?. Let the phases of the Hymn 335, I am the Bread of Life sink into our very mental processes and into our bones. Be alert to His presence here and now.
• Are your legal documents, House in order? While in St. Jude’s, Niceville, 2001 we had an 8 hour seminar on “Getting your House in Order”. We had CPA’s, Attorney’s, persons to present how we can complete and create our Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney… all these documents in order. One thing I learned if a couple or persons does not make appoints with an attorney or CPA… then nothing happens!! We can dream about getting our house in order. That appointment makes things happen!
II Awake to His coming in the mundane
• Do you perceive his presence in gestures of kindness…Last Monday is saw TN lady at Raceway pumping gasoline for $3.05 cleaning out their big pickup truck and placing their trash in the garbage can. I said, “Thanks for not leaving on our AL highways, God bless you.”
• Alert to Nuggets of Truth coming in devotions, photos,..I have found many Episcopalians believe that if reading the Bible is good for you spiritual health, then the more you read the more healthy you will be. However, in daily devotions, I suggest you take of just a bit, a paragraph, a short written devotion and reflect on this to be practiced within the events and tasks of the day. A daily devotion can be like taking
• Awake to pain and adversity of others…Those who come to Grace Church in Woodlawn in Birmingham, those who come by for Beans and Rice, those who are unemployed going from interview to interview, those in AL who are undocumented emigrants all are living with pain and adversity, those who receive the Christmas Boxes from Church of the Epiphany. Are we awake to these living in adversity?
III “Anticipation of His Coming”
The Season of Advent is a season of anticipation: His coming in Jesus of Nazareth; His coming in Prayer and Sacraments; and his coming in his final and second coming.
Here are few reflective questions.
Do you get excited? Really Anticipate? Expecting?
• Long Trip or vacation? A few months ago Zoe and I took a cruise through the Panama Canal. We fly from Birmingham to Fort Lauderdale, FL and got off the ship in San Diego, CA. We had great anticipation: packing our clothing (or attire for ship life), reading books and studying maps, stories on the Canal. We enjoyed the anticipation of the Trip.
• Iron Bowl fans, tailgaters, GS/GT; MSU/UM: Yesterday I drove from Spanish Fort to Birmingham before the Iron Bowl Game. There were lots of AL/Auburn flags on the cars, lots of AL or Auburn attire in Greenville, AL in the fast food places. I am sure with the warm weather there were lots of tailgaters on the Auburn Campus. This was a day for fun and anticipation for those in Auburn and those millions ready to watch the game. Anticipation is part of the life of sports fans. Let us anticipate the coming of Christ into our life styles.
• Visit from old friends… We have had friends from Niceville who are coming up to visit us in Birmingham. Before arriving we talk of what they mean to us, how we have enjoyed their friendship, memoires of joy and pain, getting tickets for the SEC Baseball Tournment. But they called saying they were not able to come visit. Our anticipation (recalling our moments together) was part of our friendship.
• Anticipate coming to Sunday Eucharist and Christmas…. On a give Saturday we can anticipate the Eucharistic worship by what do I want to THANK GOD FOR THIS WEEK, OR WHAT DO I NEED TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS? Our worship involves both the giving of thanks as well as the confessing of sins by which we are blessed with forgiveness.
How can you be Alert, Awake, Anticipate this Advent ?