This past Sunday we entered the season of Advent…a time of waiting and preparation. It’s a time to step back from all the craziness that is so often December and to think about what the season is really all about.
It’s also a reminder that we live in the tension between the “it came to pass” and the “not yet”. Christ was born as a baby some 2000 years ago–and changed the world. But Christ has not yet returned as his early followers expected him to do. So we live in the time of waiting…
But it’s more than just waiting. It’s preparation.
We can get so focused on the “it came to pass”–on the event of 2000 years ago–that we ignore the ways in which Christ does return to our lives every day. The question is…do we see him?
We won’t…unless we’re prepared to. Unless we’re ready to be challenged…to be made uncomfortable. Unless we’re willing to put aside our preconceived notions and biases of what Christ should look like…or act like…or smell like.
I’m reminded of a scripture from Matthew 25 we used a couple of Sundays ago.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’
“Then the king will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’
“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’
“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’
This month is a good time to remember…and prepare. None of us can be all things to all people–but we can learn to be more aware of those around us who are in need…to open our eyes to see Christ in the here and now as well as in our nativity scenes.