First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2022
Rev. Sela Finau
Scripture: Mark 13:24-31 (NRSV)
But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Devotion: What and why are we talking about the end times? Isn’t Advent about a season of light? Where’s hope, love, joy, and peace? Yes, we do focus on those four themes during Advent; however, the season also prepares us for what we need to focus on looking ahead by reading the signs of our time.
There’s a book that was a part of my required reading when I was working on my Doctoral program, and it’s called Changing Signs of Truth: A Christian Introduction to the Semiotics of Communication by Crystal Downing. The book’s cover had a sign: “Jesus Coming Soon.” Semiotics is the study of signs; put, when you’re looking at a sign, you’re not just looking at the sign; instead, you’re looking at what the sign is pointing to. For example, the cross is a sign for Christians. We don’t just look at the cross. We look at what and where the cross is pointing us. When we look at a street sign, for example, we don’t just look at the street sign; we’re looking at what and where the street sign is pointing us.
Signs are powerful, and we must be able to read the signs of our time but with an understanding that the meaning of signs can change. Nevertheless, we need to pay attention. With the correct signs, it can help and direct us to places. Without signs, the wrong ones or incorrectly reading a sign may get us on the wrong path geographically, spiritually, emotionally, medically, theologically, and in life.
Signs are all around us. Christianity and the Bible are filled with signs. Perhaps today, one of our most vital signs during Advent, as with the passage, is not only pointing to the coming of Christ in Bethlehem but looking for his second coming. Jesus is pointing us to the end times so we can pay attention to our everyday happenings and understand the signs of our time because it points to the truth of God.
Prayer: Dear God, Help us to read the changing signs of our time and to pay attention to your truth. Amen.