Daily Office Lections: Amos 4:6-13; 2 Peter 3:11-18; Matthew 21:33-46
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.
-- 2 Peter 3:11-12a
Liturgical seasons, in part, are making pronounced elements of the Christian life which are always present. For example, during penitential seasons, there is a marked emphasis on repentance. Of course, that doesn't mean that repentance is irrelevant during, say, Easter. With Advent, there is an emphasis on being ready to greet King Jesus, to be found by him faithful, to be about the Father's business, since, as today's epistle makes so clear, this present age is passing away. Advent then is reminder of realties of which we should always be aware.
In the Apostles' Creed, (which is recited at both morning and evening prayer) the spirit of Advent is always present. The Creed contains a "little Advent," if you will --- "From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." It's a sobering reminder that, as St. Paul says, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10). We need to live in the light of return of Christ, in light of the age to come, in light of eternity living lives that are holy and godly, as St. Peter says.
And when we do that, we actually hasten the day of the Lord's coming. I remember preaching a sermon a year or two ago on this passage, and I was absolutely bowled over by verse 12 -- Is Peter saying that the Church can hasten the return of Christ? That we can, as it were, "affect the eschatological timing?" That does seem to be what he's saying. And as odd as it sounds, upon further reflection, I'm convinced it's consonant with how God has worked throughout history.
God accomplishes his will through human beings. That's at the heart of what it means to bear the image of God. I call this the Psalm 8 principle. The psalm begins and ends the same way: "O LORD, OUR LORD HOW MAJESTIC IS YOUR NAME IN ALL THE EARTH." And what is implied there (go read Psalm 8) is that it is through the faithful rule and stewardship of human beings (and ultimately through the Messiah) that God's name is made majestic in the all the earth.
So as the Church, the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are to be the means by which God's kingdom comes on earth as in heaven. Did not our Lord commission us to announce and enact the Gospel to the ends of earth? Are we not indwelt and empowered by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead? Have we not been given a ministry of prayer where like the martyrs in the book of Revelation, we petition the Lord to put the world right? Are we not pray to pray daily the prayer that Jesus taught saying "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"?
So let us be transformed by the Scriptures, and through our communion with God in prayer, and by the Sacraments. And while we are being transformed (because we are all works in progress!) let us be open to God using us as agents of transformation in the lives of those around as we proclaim, in word and deed, Jesus the coming king.