Advent Devotional: November 29
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
– Matthew 34:42-44
I said it on Sunday, and I'll say it again. Some of these Advent texts are downright weird. I get what Jesus is saying to his disciples. It makes sense that one should be vigilant in matters of faith. You never know when temptation is going to rear its ugly head, or an opportunity to change someone's life through sharing God's word is going to pop up. You never know when you might unexpectedly entertaining angels instead of strangers, just like Abraham long ago.
We don't know when Christ will come. And frankly, the church has not done a great job of predicting it. For the first hundred years that our faith existed, Christians were all kinds of sure this was an "any day now" kind of thing. When it didn't happen in the lifetime of the first Christ followers, it really threw everything off a bit. When is Christ coming back?
Now, if you're like me, these are not the things you want to focus on during Advent. I would prefer to stick to prophetic poems about a baby that will soon change the world. But we do ourselves a disservice when we ignore that Advent is not only a time of anticipation, of the baby Jesus in the manger, but also the return of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God on Earth.
That's the return that Christ advises us to "keep awake" for.
Advent is the liturgical New Year. If this were the regular calendar, today would be the equivalent of January 3rd - plenty of time to put something new into practice. So what's your Advent resolution for 2016? This year my family is collecting food for our hungry brothers and sisters and placing it in a box as an "Advent Calendar" to help us track the days until we celebrate the birth of Christ and the Christmas Season.
Maybe you pray for something every day. Maybe you take time each morning to read a devotional from your fellow church members. What will be your "Advent practice" and how will you pass the time of your wait? Because all of us are waiting.
What will you do to ready yourself in anticipation? Will you be poised when the day finally comes? How will you "Prepare the way of the Lord" this year?
Rev. Kelly Staples is Associate Pastor and Director of Youth Ministries at NorthPark Presbyterian Church.