Sunday, December 10, 2023

The second Sunday of Advent

Some people are careful planners; other people are wildly spontaneous.


When planners arrange a party, nothing is left to chance. The date is chosen well in advance so as not to conflict with other events. The guest list is carefully considered. A comfortable and impressive venue is booked. The menu items are selected in light of the occasion and the diet restrictions that guests may have. Planners even contemplate unforeseen circumstances they might face.


Spontaneous people are very different. They suddenly think that it would be great to have a party. So, they text their friends and tell them to meet at a certain location that evening. They tell those invited to come with their favorite drinks and to feel free to bring other people. They arrange for food to be delivered. They hang up a few decorations, set up a Bose Sound Machine, and the party is on!


The world is made of planners and spontaneous people. Thankfully, the planners are the ones usually in positions of authority. We would not want spontaneous people making decisions without forethought and consideration of possible consequences.


This Advent Season reminds us that God is a planner. God’s actions to save us from the power of sin and death and to bring us into a loving relationship with him were divinely planned. We see that illustrated in the scripture readings for this Sunday.


In the First Reading (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11), the prophet Isaiah speaks of the deliverance God arranged for his chosen people. The God who had led his people out of slavery in Egypt would bring them out of exile in Babylon and back to Jerusalem. As Isaiah proclaimed, “Here comes with power the Lord God… Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”


In the Gospel (Mark 1:1-8), Mark begins his account of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” by introducing John the Baptist, the one sent by God to proclaim “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” and to announce “one mightier than I is coming after me.” John was to ready the way for the arrival of Jesus, whose coming had been planned and foretold.


In our Second Reading (2 Peter 3:8-14), Peter tells us not to lose hope as we cope with this sinful world for in the future “there will be new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” But that will happen according to God’s plan and timetable, for as Peter reminds us, “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”


These readings, and the ones we will hear on the Third and Fourth Sundays of Advent, show God’s plan of salvation being worked out. God did not suddenly decide to send his Son into this world. God had a plan in mind that included Isaiah, John the Baptist, Peter, and all who would follow after them – that includes each one of us. We are not the result of a spontaneous decision; we are part of God’s plan of salvation.


© 2023 Rev. Thomas Iwanowski