By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
Christmas is just around the comer-already-again. Let the preparations begin. It’s time to decorate trees and doors and mantles and cookies and cakes and bushes and almost everything else that will be still long enough. Look out Fido! Shopping lists and check-out lanes are getting longer as we try to fill everybody’s wish list. It is the most wonderful time of the year, when we’re not too busy to notice. If we’re not careful though, the next month will feel like a hectic sprint to the finish line on January first where we’ll collapse into torn wrapping paper and credit card receipts. Preparation for Christmas can be exhausting!
But, preparation is part of the Christian message, isn’t it? Advent is a season of preparation for the arrival of the Christ Child. In theory, our holiday preparations should mimic the preparation for the Incarnation. That’s a theory we should put to the test. In fact, the crowds were awfully busy on the very first Christmas, not with holiday plans but with the Census. In all of their hustle and bustle, most of them missed the Savior’s entrance into the world. And, it’s not that God was being secretive. God sent thousands of angels to announce Good News, but the angelic choir was silenced by the busy-ness of life. Only those who were ready heard the message. Shepherds, who had time to pay attention, witnessed the most miraculous night in human history.
Yes, Advent is about preparation but maybe not the way we think. We tend to focus on a future event. We spend four weeks, or eight, or more getting ready for one day that will happen in the future. Weeks of work to ready ourselves for 24 hours. Jesus tends to focus not on getting ready but on being ready. Now, maybe you think I’m splitting hairs, but hear me out. Rather than constantly stressing out over every minute detail of a single day weeks in the future, Jesus advises that we be ready right now for right now. In this moment, do the thing that you would want to get caught doing at Jesus’ return. In the next moment, do the same thing. Rather than getting ready for the future, be ready for now. Jesus’ way wipes away the stress and panic of preparation and replaces it with the peacefulness of the here and now.