This week we begin Advent in the church calendar year. It’s a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus among us at Christmas. On this Saturday morning, our sanctuary will start to be decorated with greens and other adornment of the season. And just outside our doors, in Bronson Park, candy canes are up, lights are hung and lit, and all around downtown or wherever you live and move Christmas music rings out!
In our experience, this time may not likely be an occasion when we’re in danger of falling asleep. All the things to do on our list. All the places to be and people to see. All the desires for a perfect holiday season to fulfill. And yet, in our scripture texts for worship this Sunday, we hear the urging to “stay awake!” For we don’t know when Jesus will come again among us, Mark tells us. (Mark 13:24-37)
Really? We don’t know? It’s December 25. It says so on our phones, walls, or computers. We can count the days on our homemade paper ring chains, or Advent calendars. Or if we’re in worship together on Christmas Eve, it’s when we celebrate communion, followed by the bells ringing to herald Jesus’ birth. Then we sing Silent Night by candlelight. Yes, I’m pretty sure we’ve got it all calculated and counting to know when Jesus will come.
Except there’s a different kind of time, really an experience within every moment, for which the Bible tries to awaken and prepare us. We may not be in danger of drowsiness amid all we have to do. In fact, we may not be able to sleep very well, through whatever our stresses or concerns. But are our minds awake and our hearts aware of what really matters in living faith? How do we feel God’s love in Christ for each of us personally? How do we feel committed to and inspired by God’s purposes in Christ for us and our world?
There can be much to cherish in this beautiful and exciting time of year. And there can be much pressure and anxiety amid the stresses and expectations of this time of year. In Mark’s gospel, we hear about small signs of hope that Jesus will appear amid realities of chaos and uncertainty. That’s good news for us. Through all our other plans and preparations, may we all make room in our hearts and minds and patterns of living for Holy Love in Christ to come among us.
There will be a moment of beauty, a relationship or glimpse of community, when goodness and possibility inspire us. There will a moment of opportunity, in stores or on roads or in routines of our homes, when grace and patience move us. There will be a moment of concern, for someone else or our society beyond our selves, when compassion and sacrificial generosity flow from us. There will be a moment when our longing for true peace in the fullness of unconditional, unjudgmental, unending Love rises from somewhere deep inside us.
They are signs of Sacred Presence in our times and experiences. How can we prepare to be awake and aware with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to welcome Jesus Christ when he comes? It might be December 25. It will surely be other moments before and after.
Grace and Peace,
If you would like to share your thoughts or have questions on this post, please write the Reverend Dr. Seth Weeldreyer at