First Sunday in Advent.  Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13: 14-37 were the assigned readings for today.


The other morning I went to Kohl’s and bought these really nice sweatpants and sneakers that I am wearing today.
What made the purchase great was a sale and I had a 25% off coupon that I used.
It came in a flyer in the morning newspaper that day and I cut it out right away.
But I only found out about those things because I was looking for them.
This time of year the newspapers a full of heads ups about sales and coupons.

As Christmas approaches, many people are doing the same kinds of things.
Watching for sales, and coupons, and other discounts they can take advantage of.
Its a big retail time of year so we’re looking for any notices of upcoming bargains.
The thing is you have to keep a heads up or you’ll miss out on them.

There are lots of other things that we know to wait and watch for in our lives everyday.
We know from TV listings to wait for shows we know are coming on at a certain time.
We know when to watch for the big football games that are scheduled ahead of time.
We look forward to visitors who we know will arrive at set times during the holidays.
People waited and watched for Santa who they all knew was set to arrive at the end of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Those things and more we anticipate and watch for because we know they’re coming.
A main theme in the season of Advent is about the coming of God.
Except that God is not like everything else we encounter in the world.
Because we do not know when God will be entering our lives to encounter us.

Unfortunately, God is not listed in the daily newspapers with a set time of his arrival -
‘You can find God today at 3:30 at the Whole Foods store or Rt. 35 in Red Bank’.
God does not set a schedule, like the NFL, that says on this date, he will be there -
‘Get your tickets early for when God shows up on Dec. 3 at Yankee Stadium’.
God does not leave you a phone message about what time he’s coming, like a relative helping you to plan for dinner - ‘Hello, Pete, this is God and I wanted to let you know that I plan to arrive at your home about 5:00 this Saturday’.
God doesn’t send emails or texts to say when or how he is breaking into our life -
‘Hey, Pastor.   Gonna pop into your head while U R driving to Holmdel today.   BTW… turn off your radio when it happens.   C U soon.  God’.

No, God does not operate that way, although sometimes it would be nice and help.
It’d help because we are not oriented to be looking for God,…. although we should be.
The bible tells us, and Jesus implores us, at several points to do just that.
To look for God entering our world and affecting our lives.
To bring us a message from his wisdom, or a sign of hope when we’re distressed, or an angel of his love and forgiveness when we feel beaten up.
But we really don’t really look for God in our everyday lives often enough, do we?

In fact, God doesn’t even always appear in the form we might want or expect him to.
But all the more reason that we should be looking for him to do so.
Because, as Jesus tells us, “you do not know when the time will come”.

Now that statement pertained to the Lord’s final coming on the last day.
And nobody knew when God was coming in the person of Jesus at the Nativity.
But the same holds true in the times in between;…. the times we live in now.

God;….Jesus;… comes to us as Holy Spirit all the time in daily life.
In our joys and celebrations and in our struggles and sorrows and sadness.
And the funny thing is,…. he may just come in the places I mentioned before.
God can appear in the form of statements, sights, news events, and other people. 
He just doesn’t announce it in an obvious way, but if you’re looking for him, you’ll see.

He may come in something you read in the newspaper, so that the Spirit of God turns a light on in your brain and speaks to you.
He may come to you in a comment or a phone call from a friend or acquaintance, where you realize that the Spirit of God is speaking to you through this person.
He may come to you in an email you received;…. in something you see as you’re driving;…. in what you heard on the radio or saw on TV.

In an event, a coincidence, in something halfway around the world, or right next to you.
God comes into our lives all the time.
To share all that we’re going through;…. to guide and direct us with wisdom;…to help us through tough times;…. and most of all, to love and forgive us.

The bad news is that, if you don’t look for God, you’re liable to miss it.
If we’re too busy for God or just not oriented to watch for him;…we’ll miss all that.
When God came in the person Jesus, 2000 years ago, that’s exactly what happened.
Some were not tuned into or looking for him, and many ended up missing the boat.

The good news is that God is persistent and doesn’t giving up coming to us.
God was persistent with his people Israel over the years and kept coming to them.
God was persistent after he first came as Jesus Christ to redeem the world he loves.
And God continues to be persistent, through his Spirit, with us.
As Isaiah the prophet said long, long ago;  God is “our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are the work of your hand”.
He doesn’t forget what he has made; not yesterday, not at the end, not now, not never

So be watchful, stay awake and alert, and keep a heads up.
If we can watch for sales and other events in our lives, we can watch for God too.
Living in faith means always watching for God to come.
Because he does come to us;….not just at Christmas time,…. but all the time.

Amen