Are you prepared for a guest to drop-in?

We tend to be a reactive society. We think about how we can become more valuable contributors at work after we’ve lost our job. We start our exercise routine or quit smoking after the heart attack or diabetes diagnosis. A very good friend of mine installed a new security alarm two weeks ago –  a few days after his 16-year old daughter returned home from school to a home with a burglar still inside. Although his daughter was not harmed, she is now petrified of going home when no one is there and his wife’s entire jewelry collection was stolen.

Why do we wait for something bad to happen before we decide to act?

This weekend celebrates the first Sunday of Advent.  I always thought of advent as a time of preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  It is, but it’s also considered a time of preparation for Christ’s return and for the end of our time on earth (yes, you and I will eventually die!) Advent causes us to ponder questions like, “Am I ready for Christ’s return today?”  and “If I were to die today, would I be ready for my meeting with Jesus to review how I’ve spent my precious time on this planet?” With that in mind, each of the readings have to do with hope, looking forward, staying awake, being prepared and walking in the light of the Lord – t-o-d-a-y!

In the reading from Isaiah (2:1-5),  he is offering hope to a nation that was petrified of being attacked by the Assyrians. Rather than being worried about war, Isaiah offered the people a vision for Judah and Jerusalem that didn’t include being attacked. Instead Judah and Jerusalem would become a destination site for people of other nations.  People will come in peace, without their swords and spears, and say, “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”

Isaiah offered the people of Judah hope in a time of uncertainty and war. We’re offered that same gift today in these readings. Isaiah says that the people of Judah must remain faithful to their covenant with God not only to survive, but they’re also being called to be examples to other nations of how to “walk in the light of the Lord.”  You and I are called to be examples too. Are you and I people who walk in the light of the Lord?  Is Christ’s light visible in you?

Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 13:11-14) was written at a time (about AD 58) when Paul expected Jesus to return to earth while he was still alive.  Although the reading is quite short, Paul is sending a loud and clear wake-up call to the Romans, “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”  I wonder if the Romans thought that they were sleep-walking through life?  Is it possible that you and I are walking through life asleep (or half-awake?) Today is our personal wake-up call.

Paul now tells us exactly what we need to do in order to wake-up: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Do you and I awaken each morning and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” as we would slacks or a sweater?  Is “putting on Jesus” part of our daily routine? If not, in what ways could you intentionally wear Jesus on a daily basis?

Paul describes the Romans’ darkness (non Christ-like behavior) with words like orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity, lust, rivalry and jealousy. Did you ever notice how we tend to act differently depending on what clothes we’re wearing?  Think of how your posture and language change when you take off dirty old sweat pants and put on your best suit.  I literally feel like a different person when I change my clothes. Paul is asking us to deliberately become different people – Christ-like.  Are we being asked to behave in a way that will allow us to be prepared for Christ’s return at any second of any day?  Yes.

Matthew’s Gospel (24:37-44)  continues with the themes of staying awake and being prepared. At that time, the people were looking for security and his disciples asked the question, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Like all of us, they were seeking security. They wanted to know when it was happening so that they’d had time to prepare. Jesus wants us to be ready for his visit at all times and tells them, “Be sure of this; if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.”  My friend Vinnie would have installed his house alarm three weeks ago had he known the exact day and time that the home he’s lived in for twenty plus years would be broken into.

“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  While many people are focusing on parties, presents and trees (things of this world), you and I have about four weeks to contemplate our readiness to meet Jesus.  As we attend parties during this holiday season, we can make sure that we’re always wearing the “armor of light.”

If Jesus chose today as the day of his return, would you feel prepared to greet him? Would you feel that your house was in order? If not, what do you need to do to get ready?  Now is the time. Use your time wisely.

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