A colleague recently shared this quote from Quinn Caldwell (All I Really Want: Readings for Modern Christmas), "There's waiting, and then there's waiting. Sometimes it's the oh-God-when-will-this-pain-end kind of waiting...but there's another kind...there's smelling the almost-done pie in the oven...there's feeling the baby kick you in the bladder a week before due date..."
Advent is a season where we experience both kinds of waiting. I have experienced seasons with both kinds of waiting in my life and they are each a reminder to me about God's promises for us. Advent is a season of both waiting for the birth of our Savior, and waiting for Christ's return.
While we wait, I believe Christ is calling us to remember this passage from Matthew:
"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.'" -Matthew 25:34-40
Our Advent calendar has already begun 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.