Monday, 30 November 2015

You snooze, you lose

Have you ever had one of those days when you just wish God would show up, snap his fingers and work miracles? The people of Israel had about 500 years worth of days like that, groaning under the oppression of one tyrant after another. The book of Isaiah gives voice to their sentiments like this: “O that you would rip open the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you!” (Is 63:19).

The problem is that he answered their prayer. He showed up, in person, working miracles beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. But they failed to recognize him. In fact, they crucified him.

How could this have happened? The analysis of Jesus is that they were asleep on the job (Mark 13:33-37). Sure, they busied themselves with a variety of activities, including pious practices. But constant movement can lull you to sleep, like a baby on a long car ride. Asleep means unconscious. Unaware. Lethargic. For us as Christians, this means lip service is not enough. Making God a manageable part of one’s life is not enough. He demands to be worshiped, which is to say that He must take centre stage, be at the top of the priority list. We are not just to believe He exists, but to avidly pursue Him and his will for our lives.

And why is this important? Because Jesus promises to come again and this time it won’t be in a hidden way. He won’t be wearing swaddling clothes, but judge’s robes when He will judge the living and the dead. Advent first and foremost is a time to remember that he’s coming back and that we must be a bit better prepared for the second coming than the Israelites were for the first one.

Jesus puts it like this in Matthew’s Gospel:

‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 
For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, 
marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;
and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them away. 
That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man...
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 

Amidst our celebrations and festivities, the question that should not be avoided during Advent is this – are you ready to stand judgement before God? If you are like most of us and not ready, then Advent is a great time to ‘wake up’ and start preparing as you seek the Lord in His Word, confess your sins, sing his praises and trust and believe in His Son Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh. Happy Advent.

Parish magazine article for the start of Advent 2015