Isaiah 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64:2-71 Corinthians 1: 3-9Mark 13: 33-37
A benefit of a New Year is that it represents a fresh start. We can all easily think of there solutions that are made for the New Year which begins on January 1. As we are also aware, those resolutions easily fade away after a rather brief time. The First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a New Year in the life of the Church. It is a new beginning in the consideration of what is offered to us, what we possess by faith in God and faith in God’s presence with us. In many situations we may have done well in living out that faith and in the practice of that faith. An honest assessment by any of us, however, will let us know that we can all do better.
It was with this thought in mind, the idea of doing better, that suggested my consideration of how we might mark the “New Year’ of the Church. We first heard inspired words from the prophet, Isaiah. The very end of that particular passage contained a familiar image: we are clay who are molded and formed by God, a potter. There was another phrase in that passage, however, that led me to pause and to reflect: “would that you might meet us doing right.” Would that we might be known, not only by God, but by others, by the fact that we live out our lives “doing right.” Would that any one of us might be known and experienced, day after day, by how the love the goodness, and the mercy of God is evident in us. That, indeed, is the challenge that is raised to us as we consider the decisions and choices we make in speaking and acting during the course of any given day.
As we begin a New Year, and resolve to begin again a genuine effort to live out our faith, it is necessary, as Jesus admonishes us, to be watchful and on guard. We are to look out for any and all opportunities when God’s presence can be made known through us. It is in this way that the presence of God can be known and experienced in our world – by starting with us.
We need to realize, as St. Paul tells us today, what it means to be “enriched in every way.” It is in the manner that we give witness to Jesus Christ and his revelation that is confirmed in the way in which we live daily.
If, indeed we want that presence of God to be more evident in our world and in our lives, then we need to look at ourselves, examine words we speak, actions we do, the attitudes we assume and reflect. We must be willing to challenge ourselves and make what changes are required. We must live out in our lives the true peace we seek. We must become in our words and actions the non-violence we desire. We must affirm the uniqueness each of us possesses as images of our creator God. We must uphold and confirm the dignity and the worth of all lives.
With the beginning of a New Year that we, as Church recall on this First Sunday of Advent, we are called to renew our effort to be watchful and alert in all ways. This we do so that we may truly be found to be “doing right in our lives” by our good and gracious God.