Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I’ve been talking a lot in sermons recently about our expectations regarding Christ’s second coming, and that since the biblical witness gives us not an apocalyptic horror story but a message of hope, that Christ’s return will be a good thing. When we pray “thy Kingdom come,” it’s because we have reasons to want that to happen. No doubt the first generations of Christians recognized this, which is why Christ’s return wasn’t coming soon enough for their liking. This is the context of this morning’s Epiustle.

It is a shame that we so rarely hear from the Second Epistle General of St. Peter. Indeed, after consulting the lectionary I discovered it only appears on two Sundays in our entire three year cycle of readings. So I wanted to focus on our that this morning. Don’t worry; we’ll get more John the Baptist next week.

Like Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Peter’s Second Epistle was written in a period of delayed gratification with regard to the Second Coming of Christ. In fact this letter was written at least a decade after Paul’s; Peter actually references Paul’s epistles explicitly in the verses which follow this morning’s lesson, calling them “Scripture,” so not a little time has passed. That being the case, we can imagine the anxiety of Peter’s audience to be even more acute. Why hasn’t Christ returned? Has he forgotten us? Was the second-coming merely a fond idea, vainly invented?

In the Year of our Lord 2023, I admit I feel a bit more kinship with Peter’s audience than I would have done years ago. Perhaps I am not alone. With all the sad and violent things happening in our world today, I’ve found myself saying, without any sense of irony, “why won’t Jesus just come back and fix it already!?” I went to two ordinations this weekend, and at one of them the bishop, in her sermon, highlighted this theme of Advent expectation, and amusingly said more or less the same thing “won’t Jesus come back” but said it would be nice if he delayed just a few minutes so we could ordain a colleague first.

Peter, such a great pastor, gives us a compelling answer to this seemingly unfulfilled hope. God’s time is not ours, and any delay is surely so that the Good News can spread farther abroad and more can be saved. Our part is to persevere in godliness and “holy conversation,” to be patient and to persevere in living that simple call to prayer and study and works of charity.

“Every year,” the great Fleming Rutledge has said “Advent begins in the dark.”The world indeed seems dark, but we are called to watch and pray until the glory of the Lord is to be revealed, until all flesh shall see it together.

My prayer is that at the last we will be found to have been a people who did just that, who kept hope alive in the darkness, knowing that the great and terrible day of the Lord would come when we least expect it, like a thief in the night, and then we should find that, our consciences being made pure, the Lord has made in us a mansion made ready even for himself.

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.