Today, in this last week of Advent, I’m asking myself if I am prepared for Christ and for the Christmas celebration. Not long ago, I heard someone say that Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Savior and for His coming. I’ve heard that statement many times before and never gave it a second thought, but that day, something about it kept tumbling around in my mind. It occurred to me that during Advent, we are to prepare for two events, not one: 1) the celebration of the birth of our Savior and 2) His return. In the past, I had assumed that statement to be repetitive or merely separating Christ’s birth from the rest of his life and ministry here on earth. However, now I believe that Advent is an opportunity to prepare our lives and our hearts to celebrate his birth, his life and ministry, and for his inevitable return. Am I prepared for that?
In Mark 13:32, Jesus tell us that no one knows the day or hour of his return, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son - only the Father knows. Jesus didn’t say no one knows “if” he is returning. He said no one knows “when” he will return except, of course, the Father who knows and orchestrates all things. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t given Jesus’ return much thought. If you’re like me, you’re expecting to see Jesus face-to-face when your body dies and your spirit goes to be with him. But do we really anticipate that Jesus may return before we die and if he does, will we be ready? What does one do to be ready for that?
Looking again to Jesus, in Mark 13:34, he says that it’s like when a man is going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Like that man, Jesus will return and I need to be dedicated to the task I’ve been given in anticipation of that return. So what is my task? It’s the same as yours - to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)
So how are you doing with that? I admit - I could be doing a lot better. I love God, but it’s not in my sinful nature to love God completely and there are some people in this world for whom I have no love. Because of my sinfulness, I will always fall short of the perfection which God’s holiness demands. It’s only through the forgiveness that is so readily available in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that I find myself celebrating instead of shuddering in God’s glorious presence. It seems that for the moment, through God’s grace, I’m as prepared as I can be to for the Christmas celebration and for Christ’s return.
My prayer for you this coming week is for you to be filled with the joy and hope that the birth of Christ brings and the peace that his return promises.