"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Whenever I read this familiar passage, it challenges me to remember Christ's call for each of us.
We will begin the season of Advent on Sunday, a time set aside for preparing our hearts as we wait for the coming of Christ. Our Advent calendar begins to fill up with wrapping presents, decorating the home, preparing for Christmas parties, addressing Christmas cards and shopping for gifts. It can be difficult to set aside time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ during this season.
Jesus calls us to something greater in the gospel of Matthew. If Jesus is the person who is poor, hungry, in prison, then life is not just about what we can do for that person, but it's also about how we can be in relationship with them, meet Christ in them, and receive from them, too. I would invite you to enter the season of Advent with this in mind.
Advent is not only a time of preparing for the joyous celebration of Christ's birth, but a reminder that as Christians we are to be prepared to meet our Lord and experience God's grace in those unexpected places and unlikely faces. While we complete our gift lists and search for replacement bulbs in a strand of multi colored Christmas tree lights, we must also search ourselves and prepare for Christ's coming in our opportunities to serve the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the stranger and the prisoner.
Prayer for Today
Gracious and Loving God,
Guide us as we enter this season of preparing for the miracle of Christ's birth. Open our hearts to share the joy of Christ's coming and unbridled love with those around us, both stranger and friend. Help us prepare ourselves to rejoice in Christ's coming through acts of kindness for those in need.
In Christ's Name, Amen.