We are now into the first Sunday After the Feast of Sleebo. This brings a big transition to the church calendar. The Sunday Liturgy changes from Kymtho to Sleebo. If you pay attention to the Bible Reading, you will find that we are meditating on the second coming of Jesus. This is the first part of Advent. The western churches celebrate Advent for 4 Sundays before Christmas. Advent means waiting. The first 2 weeks is waiting for the arrival of Jesus for the second time. The last 2 weeks looks at the arrival/ incarnation of Jesus on Christmas Day. Christmas has already happened. What is yet to happen is the second coming of Jesus which we believe will happen. In the Nicene Creed, it states:
Jesus was crucified for us; he suffered and died and was buried (Matt 27:2, 26)The ascension scene is described in Acts 1: 9-11 as follows:
Jesus Ascends to Heaven9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."Acts 1:11 clearly states that Jesus will come again. The first time He came in to the world was shrouded in secrecy and Jesus came as a helpless baby on Christmas Day. But the second coming will be a show of strength and Jesus will come in grandeur. Jesus will come in the sky surrounded/accompanied by the angels. But the problem is that no one knows when Jesus will come the second time; only the Father knows, no one else - not even Jesus! So, we have to be diligent and be ready to receive Him when He comes. So, the advent, "Watch time". Interestingly, if you examine some of the ICONS of Orthodox Church depicting the ascension, it is not clear whether Jesus is going from the earth to heaven (ascension) or coming back from the heaven to the earth (second coming). The artists have left it intentionally vague. The Orthodox Church believes that we are under His reign while waiting for His return to establish His kingdom in its fullness. Jesus has given us some signs indicating his imminent second arrival. We contemplate on those during this period between the Feast of Sleebo and the Koodosh e'to - the official start of the new Church calendar year. Between the Kudosh e'to and Christmas we will celebrate the advent season - the birth of Jesus. Jacob Mathew
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