Welcome to St. Luke’s! The season of Advent begins today. The name of the season means “coming,” and it celebrates God’s coming to us in the birth of Jesus and looks toward Christ’s return at the end of history as Savior and Judge. On this day we remember the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs who have brought God’s offer of salvation to us though the ages. The first reading from Isaiah reflects the intensity of the prophet’s hope for the Messiah. In a period of Israel’s history when confidence in the people’s own efforts to build God’s Kingdom had collapsed, Isaiah expresses that hope in a passage that has been a part of the Advent liturgy since the earliest days of the Church, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down...” In the second reading we hear Paul’s greeting in his first letter to Corinth. Recognizing the many spiritual gifts of the Corinthian church (a source of their strength, but also a source of the controversy which caused him to write) he says that those spiritual gifts are given to prepare us to greet the return of Christ. Jesus’ message to his followers is an assurance that he will return and that our lives should be lived in preparation for that return. This theme of watching for his return is always central on the first Sunday of Advent. Today’s reading from Mark is the parable of the door-keeper. It reminds us that we are always to be on the watch for Jesus’ return. The liturgy is the way the Church lives in the time between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming. In word and sacrament he comes to us again and again, veiled, but present to eyes of faith. In the Eucharist and in ministry to others we are continually being prepared to greet him when he comes again in glory.