First Sunday of Advent


IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

1 COR 1:3-9

MK 13:33-37



Sometimes, we are so distant from the scriptures' atmosphere that a little bit of contextualizing helps our relation to them. So, for a few seconds, I would like for all of us to imagine that advent is more than a seasonal ritual, that advent surpasses a specific period and, it is instead, an anxiety-inducing moment in our lives. I want us all to create some psychological distance from the way we understand advent as a countdown and try our hardest to think of it as a warning. I want us all, for a second, to ultimately reckon with this idea: God is on the way.

Friends, hear me clearly, God is coming. 

And not the little god we make false promises to or the tiny god we kind of ignore. But big God. God God. The one who creates conditions for existence, the wholly Other, the ground of Being, the light of reality. The God who sees and knows who and what we are underneath our performances, our good faces, and our efforts or the lack thereof. The scripture says that God God is coming. And in fact, God is almost here.

That is both wonderful and terrible. Frightening and exciting.

Why? Because the scriptures seem to suggest that the nature of God’s arrival, whether it’s good or bad, is contingent upon the adherent anticipating the arrival. It is good if we are prepared for God. It is terrifying if not. So how do we make sure God’s coming is good? What is the scripture saying? What are we to do? And here’s the beautiful part, it’s not what we are to do as much as it’s a matter of becoming who we ought to be.

The text says: “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be...”

In other words, what sorts of persons await God anxiously?

That’s a phenomenal question and since you asked I’ll tell you. These sorts of people, the people who anxiously await God’s knock on the door, embark upon vigorous self-analysis. They check every single blemish that may not appear like a blemish to the larger society, and they challenge themselves to be better. They challenge themselves to be more loving, more accepting, more kind, fairer and more just. They do their best to mimic Jesus’s radical self-inclusion and open-mindedness. And they wonder, consistently, where am I failing? Who am I ignoring? Towards whom am I indifferent? Am I treating people, especially people of color, fairly and lovingly? Am I treating people, especially those who identify as queer, as human beings who deserve love and community as I do? Am I selfish? Entitled? Privileged? Am I using my little gods to justify the maltreatment of other peoples? Am I repentant? It seems that those who expect God are consistently repentant because they know the results of their vigorous self-analysis. Therefore, in this season, think about how to prepare for God. And one of those ways, is to notice the blemishes before God does.

 Jamall C.