Advent Devotional: November 30
But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
– Matthew 24:36-37;42
Each year at this time we get excited about Christmas and talk about being prepared for the birth of Jesus. In his first coming no one seemed to know when he arrived. It wasn't that it hadn't been foretold in the Old Testament, it was that almost no one was paying attention and they hadn't been told specifically to be prepared. It didn't help that everyone was looking for royalty, not a baby born in a barn.
In Matthew, Jesus tells us to be prepared for his second coming and that it will arrive without warning once more. Again no one knows when, only that we need to be prepared.
But how are we to prepare for this? As with his first coming, I don't see this being a news event that's live Tweeted or shared on Facebook and Instagram. Jesus will be here when we least expect him.
What are we supposed to do to prepare? Keep a spare bedroom for him in case he needs a place to sleep? Set an extra place at dinner in case he shows up hungry? Maybe we should. Even if Jesus isn't the one who shows up, "whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for me."
The other part of the dilemma: When are we to prepare? We all have lives to live. We can't just wait by the door to let in Jesus if he comes during our lifetime. We get ready to celebrate Christmas every year and go through a cycle of anticipation, reflection, and treating everyone more like Jesus taught us to – but sometime around the second or third week of January we let our guard down. We get tired of being on alert and waiting for him to come again, and we slowly creep back into life as usual.
This could mean always striving to live as Jesus taught his disciples. Maybe it means we should pay attention to how he's with us today, in ways that we don't see. Maybe he is here all along, and we just aren't paying attention?
Jesus is here when my high school friend is with her mother as she breathes her last breath. Jesus is here when a baby is born 8 weeks early. Jesus is here in a sunset that goes on forever. Jesus is here in those special moments, both good and bad.
We don't know when Jesus will come back physically to be with us again. Maybe the point is that he's already here, and we just aren't seeing him, when he is really all around us. We may not be paying attention.
This advent season let's be more aware.
Chris Arends, NorthPark member