Ascension Church

Homily, Dec. 4, 2017


I. There were times in our lives, especially in our adolescent years and later, when we led our parents to some places they’d never have chosen or anticipated. But they went, they always went, because we were theirs.


In late August, my dad moved out of his apartment, then into assisted living, and now into a nursing home. His mind isn’t as clear as it was even a month ago, and his body has become more fragile, too. Now he’s taking me to places I’d never have chosen or anticipated. But there’s no question that I’ll go, I’ll always go, because I am his.


II. The wreath, the candles, the purple and blue, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We’ve seen it and done it all before, right? Same old, same old. NO. The truth is, we’ve never been here before. Advent isn’t the remembrance or resuscitation of Christ’s long ago coming, or some religious exercise to get us in the mood for Christmas. Every Advent, this Advent, is meant to be an excursion to a place we haven’t yet gone, an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a way we haven’t imagined or dared. It won’t be, it can’t be, the same old thing.


III. Today’s scriptures announce that it’s time to pay attention—to be alert, to be watchful—not only for the end of time, but to where and how Christ is revealing himself today. Christ is coming all the time, arriving in every moment. In this new year, he may be leading us to places we haven’t chosen or anticipated, to a place we haven’t yet imagined or dared.


Given the state of our world, the state of our country, the state of our community, just where is Christ leading us? Where are we being called —both personally and collectively—on behalf of immigrants and refugees, especially those in our own Ascension community? Where are we being called to in matters concerning racial equity? What about the poor, the elderly, the hungry, the young? What is Christ calling us to say or do or be in our families? For my part, I don’t know what he’s calling me to do, but I know he’s calling me to something, to something more—and frankly, I’m a little nervous about it. I rely on a refrain I learned in treatment, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”


Pay attention, be alert, be watchful. The migrant Christ is on the move, breaking through, willing us to go where he goes. And go we must, because we are his.