“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
This is a curious passage for the first Sunday of Advent, yet here it is. Perhaps as we zoom out to the whole of Luke 21 it makes more sense. The chapter opens with the widows offering, putting in all she had while the wealthy made noises about their gifts. After this the disciples start a conversation about the opulence of the Temple. It is in this context that Jesus tells of the end of days, and how the trappings of all the worldly distractions will be reduced to nothing. Jesus concludes with these words of not being weighed down with the worries of this life in such a way that he is missed. That Jesus came from a humble birth to a humble family in a humble town, it should come as no surprise that he is critical of the self-serving affluence of the powerful. He knew that the things of this world can be just such a distraction to missing the arrival of King of Kings. Let our burdens be light friends as we prepare for the arrival of the Christ child, Emmanuel.