Advent. It's a season that can get you to examine things you've been covering over and pretending not to notice. I've been trying to follow the readings for each day even during the busyness of teaching and pastoral work. Advent is preparation.
Behind the pulpit, and in the classroom, a lack of preparation will cause you to quickly experience fear. And that fear robs you of the effectiveness you need to speak and explain. It almost paralyzes me. The feeling is of being tied to the train tracks and seeing the light of an approaching locomotive. I just cannot preach or teach off the cuff. I have to prepare. Advent is preparation.
Sure, in the back of everyone's mind this time of year Charlie Brown and Linus are on a darkened stage. People know the story of Christmas well. But they don't necessarily know why Christmas matters or why Advent matters. Advent is preparation.
In my new dual role as pastor/teacher, I'm learning more about how the world is working and my research is returning a clear finding of "not good." "A new generation arose knowing not Joseph" wrote the scribes. Well, new generations have risen believing that the world revolves around them and that there's noting more to life than what they can see or hold in their hands. Working with kids every day, each of whom are precious in God's sight and dear to my heart, I can see the effects of society's message. And one day Jesus will return and set everything right. Advent is preparation.
"A voice said 'Shout!'"
"Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field."
Advent is preparation for life here, and life eternal with Jesus. It's acknowledging that some things God has done are simple yet complex, warm and fuzzy, but incredibly costly, and the effects that we can see may be only a fraction of what God has done. A baby was born. No big deal, right? Babies get born every day. But this one changed everything.
One day people will wake up. Maybe it'll be a week day. Or maybe the weekend will see Him come. But one day Jesus will come, not as a babe in Bethlehem, but as the leader of Heaven's Armies - as King.
Advent is preparation for that day when the Shepherd of Israel returns. To His enemies His wrath will come. To His beloved... "He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with her young." I LOVE that picture.
But while we wait...
"And so dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight."
Make every effort.
Advent is preparation.
Take time this weekend to worship Him and study His Word.