1st Sunday of Advent (Ages 9-12): The Pervasion of God
(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. In Advent we prepare for the feast of God-who-comes-into-the-world-as-one-of-us.
God who knows what it is like to play sports,
to laugh with friends,
to worry before a test.
God who knows how to celebrate with family,
to eat rich foods.
God who knows what it means to be cold and hungry.
God who knows what it means to be left out, made fun of, disliked.
God who knows us—and who lifts us up to something more.
It is a good feast. To prepare, we change the colour of the season to purple.
The reading for this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of Luke, not long before Jesus is arrested, dies, and is buried. It takes place not long before his second birth—birth into life that never ends. Jesus is describing, not his first coming into this world, but his second coming. His second coming is called Parousia.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
“Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.
This second coming sounds like an invasion!
That is an interesting thought: Jesus invading the world.
It does not sound quite right, does it? We know that Jesus is not an army general. We know he is not the type of king to command soldiers into battle.
A better word might be a "pervasion." When something pervades, it spreads through. It becomes present throughout every part. It is perceived—it is known—everywhere. St. Paul describes Parousia as God being "all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:28b). Parousia is God pervading all people, all creation.
Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
An invasion is an event. A pervasion is an ongoing process. Jesus describes things beginning to take place. It may take awhile, but God spreads through, becomes present throughout, is known by all.
“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.
Redemption is a "lifting up", it is a "setting free." With our hearts weighed down by sin and worry, Jesus coming to lift us up might feel like an invasion. With our heads not raised to watch for him, his setting free might seem like a trap.
For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.
The Pervasion of God will come. God is in the process of coming. God will be all in all. In Advent we remember this particularly. We stand up, we raise our heads, we order our lives. We welcome God in.
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.”
We pray for strength, that gift of fortitude that the Holy Spirit gives us. We need fortitude to stand up and raise our heads when life is difficult. We need fortitude to confess our sins so that we are not weighed down. Fortitude helps us to see that there is nothing to fear. God comes not to invade but to pervade—to be with us.
So stand up! Raise your heads! Sniff the air!
Can you smell God? Can you hear God? Can you see God?
It is a Parousia Pervasion.
Come, Lord Jesus!