The Work of Advent
Preparing for the First Sunday of Advent: Two Days Before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 25:1-10
Old Testament: Nehemiah 9:16-25
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
Almighty God in this Advent season, help us to seek you in the most unlikely places as a Child in a stable, as a Savior on a cross, and as a Conqueror of a tomb. Hear our prayers, which come from the unlikely corners of our lives. Amen.
Preparation can be hard work. We know that for an event to take place as planned, good preparation is necessary. There are times when circumstances require us to “fly by the seat of our pants,” but preparation is always to be preferred. The Thessalonian Church had to contend with a group of believers who were so certain that Jesus was returning soon, that they prepared for his coming by waiting in idleness. There was no need to labor, to work, to build, or to plan for the future because in a short time everyone would be gathered to Jesus. They prepared for Jesus’ return by not preparing for anything in their day-to-day living. The result of this was that these believers were “mooching off” of other Christians who were laboring and continuing about their lives. One group prepared by not working; the other prepared by continuing to work.
St. Paul has to remind the Church to “admonish the idlers.” Preparing for Jesus’ return, no matter when it comes, does not consists in waiting in laziness, but in being about the work of the kingdom. Jesus is very clear about this in Matthew’s Gospel. His instruction to watch for his return in Matthew 24 are followed by stories about work— the work that kingdom people engage in. Watching for Jesus’ return is to do the work that Jesus’ expects, (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:1-13; 25:14-30; 25:31-46) and not staring at the sky and living off the labor of others.
It not only matters that in Advent we prepare for Christmas, but it makes a difference in how we prepare. Along with all the other preparations of decorating, and preparing for family gatherings, Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, daily Scriptures, and meditations can assist us in our waiting for the celebration of the Nativity. Congregational worship, worship on Christmas Eve, and/or on Christmas Day, and listening to Christ-centered Advent and Christmas music can situate us in the right attitude of Advent preparation.
If someone of notable importance were coming to our house for dinner, I dare say we wouldn’t leave the house a mess and serve leftovers. We would get ready to welcome our guest with the best that we have. As we prepare in this season of Advent for the coming of the greatest person ever born— our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ— let us make sure we prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits in our Advent preparations to welcome the greatest gift the world has every received— the gift of God’s very self in the Messiah and Savior of the world!
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