The 12th century monk, Bernard of Clairvaux, noted in one of his sermons that the coming of Christ is threefold. First, Advent marks his past coming in Bethlehem. Second, Advent looks ahead to Christ's future coming at the end of time. Third, Christ also comes to us in the present, coming to us in spirit and power as God's love is poured into our hearts. Our reading from Hebrews describes for us a picture of how Christ comes to us now: in the gathered community that is fed by the Word of God, sustained by prayer and empowered by the Holy Spirit to acts of love and mercy. Later, in Chapter 13, these acts of love and mercy take on greater specificity: "Let mutual love continue. ... Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers ... Remember those who are in prison ... (and) those who are being tortured" (Hebrews 13:1-3). As we receive Christ's Advent, may we continue to encourage one another in "love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NRSV)
23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.