I’m not from the tradition of Advent. I’m from a tradition that looks at the words of Jesus in Matthew (the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent) and says, “We could disappear at any time, so don’t be doing things that you wouldn’t want Jesus to catch you doing.”
There is an element of truth, of course, but it’s not a very encouraging way to live. It’s a “don’t get caught” way of thinking, a “look out!” rather than a look forward way of living.
When Jesus talks about being ready, we could say, “You don’t know when he is coming. But you do know THAT he is coming. So be ready. Be prepared. Prepare the way of the Lord.”
My hospital life has taught me something about life and change and God coming. Two people can be walking and one can trip and break a hip. Two people can be in a car and one can walk away and one can be critically injured. Or worse.
And in those moments, we all discover something about being ready. We meant to finish those projects on the house. We meant to spend more time together. We meant to finish the conversation, to take care of the healthcare representative paperwork. Some people are ready, in all of those ways. Most of us are not.
While the coming of God in all His glory hasn’t happened to all of earth, everyone who has lived and died since Jesus said those words has an understanding of being surprised at how quickly we might see God.
So what can we learn about being ready for the coming of Jesus, past, present, and future, this advent season? While we are waiting, how can we be getting ready?
The starting point of Advent, this Sunday called Hope, is the reminder that there IS something to hope for, there is something worth waiting for and we can prepare by being alert.
The disciples, when Jesus died, were heartbroken. The disciples, when Jesus appeared again, were overcome with fear and then joy. The disciples, when Jesus disappeared and the Holy Spirit came, were determined in their work and invigorated in their expectation of seeing him again. For them, the thought of a future in the full presence of God kept them going.
There was a confidence that came from knowing that they would be together and what that meant.
The more we live in a confidence of God’s love for us and God’s return for us, the more we can let go of the fear of that coming and work on being ready. Which means living the life that God created us for and calls us to live.