Happy New Year!
That’s right, today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year, and Jesus starts us off with a bang. We’re going to have to find the Good News within these texts, because honestly on the surface they seem like bad news.
“People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” Jesus says. “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.”
Goodness. That’s dramatic. And pretty scary.
Apocalypse always seems like bad news to those of us who have power and wealth.
But remember, apocalypse, the total upending of the universe’s order, seems like Good News to the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
For them, God coming in and blowing up everything and starting over with justice and mercy sounds brilliant.
Apocalypse is only bad news to those of us who think we have something to lose.
But there’s one verse that jumped out at me that definitely is Good News, even for those of us who are at the top of the pyramid and can’t always identify with Jesus’ audience. And that verse is this: “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Stand up and raise your heads.
Or as your mom might have said to you when you were a kid, “Hold your head up and your shoulders back, you weren’t born under a rock.”
Or, when she saw you were feeling down, “Keep your chin up.”
This is an interesting instruction from Jesus, one of the only ones I know of in the gospels where he gives us a commandment for our physical posture. Continue reading