‘Not in strife and envying: but put on the Lord Jesus Christ’
I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but at any time of year and especially now with the dark mornings, I can be somewhat reluctant to leave my bed. It’s nice, it’s warm, and it’s comfortable. So when I hear the words ‘now it is high time to awake out of sleep’ I want to reach for the snooze button. It is sad to say that for many people their spiritual lives can be a bit like this: it’s a bit too much effort, can we really be bothered? But this is what we need to do: Advent is after all a season of preparation, of turning away from the world and sin, and preparing to meet the Son of God, who is born in Bethlehem and who will come to be our judge. We may not be able to recognise the signs, we may not know when it is going to happen, but as we have celebrated the Universal Kingship of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we know that he will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead. He fulfils prophesies but also proclaims the kingdom in word and deed and overthrows the tables in the temple. This doesn’t mean that the Cathedral Gift Shop is an abomination, but rather that the Church needs to be vigilant. When a house of prayer becomes a den of thieves the interests of the world have taken over; when the Church is conformed to the ways of the world, when it seeks the world’s approval or bows to its will, it sells the Gospel short and for that it too will be judged and found wanting.
The only solution is to be found in Christ. It is he whom the church must put on, his is the standard by which we will be judged. Note also that love is the fulfilling of the law. The law is not abolished in Christ, but rather it is fulfilled, its meaning is deepened. It is through the framework of the Law and the Prophets that we can hope to understand who and what Christ is and what he does. It is our frame of reference; truth is revealed in and as the Word of God. So we are called to ‘cast off the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light’ we are to turn away from sin, from the ways of the world and walk in the way of him who is the Light of the World. We are to watch and pray, and to live lives which proclaim the truth of God’s saving love in Christ. We are to treat our lives on this earth as a preparation for the life to come, not because we can earn salvation through our works, but because in living Christ-like lives we conform ourselves to the will of God, we show the world how we love and serve God, our lives have true meaning, and we truly flourish as human beings.
So let us lose our lives in order that we may truly find them in Christ, let us live out our baptism when we are clothed with Christ. Let us be fed with him, in Word and Sacrament, turning away from our sins, and looking to him to heal us and restore us, to prepare us to be with him forever, contemplating the vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever.