It’s getting close, isn’t it? Anticipation becomes reality in just a day or two, depending on when individual families hold their celebrations of the coming of Christ into our world. He has already entered, has He not? Yet there is more to come.
The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent focus on the Second Coming of the Christ we celebrate even now. Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36. All of them point to the need for preparation, noting that things may turn rather unpleasant by the time Christ comes to culminate what He has already begun. He will, indeed, finish what He started.
We attempt all sorts of things and invent all sorts of devices in order to make life better. There is something about our nature that yearns for a sense of confidence that we are moving forward, that something better is possible. We want to make it happen. For many folks the route to the good life is one that must be self-created and self-trod; we have to do it our way, as Frank Sinatra’s classic song has it. We in the western portion of the world are especially given to doing it our own way. It is encouraged in our children, who are constantly told that they can be anything they want to be. What so often happens is that the options presented for them to desire turn out to be rather thin. It has been said that the worst thing in the world is not to fail to reach one’s dreams; it is to reach them and find that they do not satisfy. That is an emptiness plaguing far too many people in what we thought were wonderful places.
We were made for better things. We were made for God. It is doubtful that there was ever a more fulfilled person than Jesus of Nazareth. We should celebrate him not only because He came to us, but because he came that we might have life, in all its abundance intended by our Creator. We were made to enjoy, grow with, learn from, interact with, provide and receive guidance from one another. When we do we find happiness. But we don’t trust one another enough to risk the openness and honesty about ourselves that this mutuality requires. So we guard ourselves and withdraw from the other. We focus on how different he/she is from ourselves. We build walls to protect us from them; if necessary we strike at them before they strike at us. In the process, we forget what the image of God is all about and where it resides. We lost all ability to relate even to the Image Himself.
Jesus has come not only to show us God (He IS the visible image of the invisible God), but by doing it in the flesh he showed us how to find that image, and therefore that value in each other person so created. That’s why all of the focus on unjust relationships that comes with Advent readings come as warnings to us. We need to rethink our relationship with God, allow Him to restore it in Christ, and move among others in the transactions of life with His vision and version of who they are and of who they may become if the Savior moves in them.
That, I believe, is being prepared for His coming, and the way to look for it gladly, no matter what our circumstance. We know He will complete His work; we long to be participants in it. The fortunate among us know it to be so.