Advent 1 A, November 27, 2016, Gretchen Rehberg
If the owner of the house had known when the thief would come he would not have let his house be broken into.
Oh how true that is!
Last year I had thieves come and rob me, twice. I did not have a lot taken, except perhaps for my sense of safety and security. But oh how true it is that if I had just known… Now of course I have more locks on the house, and am more diligent.
A bit like locking the barn door after the horse has already left.
Be prepared at all times Jesus says to us today. Be prepared. Be prepared at all times because you never know when it is the time.
This is Advent. Advent is all about preparation. Preparation for the coming of Jesus. Preparation for the coming of our King. We are told to be prepared, and so we prepare.
4 Sunday’s of Advent. Only one month. Not nearly enough time to prepare for Jesus to come into our life.
Of course, he has already come. And he comes again today, and will come again and again, and again. So be prepared.
One month of preparation. Why – why do we do this when, after all, we know the story. The Incarnation has already happened, Christmas has already occurred. Why?
Because we must. We must prepare again, for we are to be prepared. If the owner had known when the thief would come he would have been prepared.
What does it mean to be prepared anyway? Are we to simply put out the crèche, put up the tree, bake the cookies and make the candy? Do we buy presents and send cards and decorate? What does it mean to prepare for the coming of our King? The coming of our King as a baby, born at Christmas?
For years Advent was a penitential season. The Church emphasized that preparation meant taking a good look at our own sins, repenting of them, offering penance and reconciliation as a necessary part of preparation. And that is not a bad way of thinking about it. When we think about the greatest gift of God coming to us it might indeed cause a bit of self-reflection and penitence.
These days the theme is more about anticipation. We live in anticipation of the coming of the Incarnate God. We wait, we prepare by our faithfulness in being present, being alert. It is not about penance but participation. Also a good way of considering it. We need to participate, be alert, be present.
If the owner of the house had known… We think Advent comes around one month a year. We celebrate Christmas for 12 days. And it would be too easy to be pleased with ourselves, we do know, and so we prepare. But of course we don’t really know. The Church seasons are a way of marking reality, they remind us of what it true. And what is true is that Christ will come, Christ does come, and we must prepare. But what is not true is that Christ only comes on our set and planned for time schedule. What is not true is that Christ only comes for a set 12 days after a month of careful preparation.
Are we prepared in August to see our Incarnate God? Do we recognize the King of the Universe in our midst in the middle of May? Or do we think we need winter for Christ to come?
You must therefore be prepared, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
too many read this passage as simply about the final coming, the final judgement. Reading the passage that way lets of safely off the hook. Especially those of us who trust in the mercy of God. But perhaps these words of Jesus have less to do with final things and more to do with mundane things.
Encountering the God among us in the middle of Albertsons while buying carrots. Noticing the Christ in another while filling the car with gas. Seeing the face of Christ in the person who is in grief, or anger, or joy. Seeing God in the person who looks so different from I look.
The Son of Man comes at an unexpected hour. We must be prepared.
And so, once again, Advent. A time for intentional preparation. A time to take stock of how well we are doing with having eyes that see and ears that hear. A time to listen for the voice of angels speaking to us, singing to us – your God comes among you.
I now lock my house. Probably should have been locking it all along. What is it that Christ is calling you and me to be doing now which we probably should have been doing all along? What might be the new thing we are called to?
Advent. A glorious month. Oh come, let us prepare for our God and King.