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Living Ready

December 25, 2013

Jonathan, Sarah, Melissa, and Phil

Advent is characterized as a season of waiting; waiting to celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus. As a pastor, it is my ‘job’ to focus on this special celebration. However, I must confess that this year, I have been focused on something else. On December 28, our son, Jonathan, and his fiancée, Sarah, are getting married. I am eagerly waiting for that celebration.

As I have watched all the plans and preparation, I have realized that we could not maintain this level of energy or excitement if we did not have a sure date in mind. To live in a perpetual state of preparing for a wedding would not be sustainable! However, because we have a target, we are very focused on tasks and timelines, details and decisions. The concrete nature of December 28, brings clarity to our efforts.

This may be why people speculate so endlessly about the day when Jesus will return. If they knew the day, they could pace themselves and make sure everything is where it should be when it should be. Not knowing is harder. Imagine trying to wake up every morning and being prepared to celebrate your wedding, but not knowing if this was the day! Crazy making.

Jesus invited us into an intentional space of preparation when he said he was coming back, but no one would know the day or the hour – just live life in the ready mode! This would be a cruel torment if not for two elements, one his return is promised. We rely on his word, and those of us who hold the Bible as sacred give him high marks for credibility. We are waiting in confidence his promise will be fulfilled.

Two, being prepared is not about our doing enough to be ready. It is about accepting what Jesus has already done for us. Living in faith simply means we take Jesus at his word and live ‘ready.’ I don’t have to scurry about and do more out of fear I haven’t done enough; I merely am called to live with a moment by moment awareness of his unseen presence. When I do this, his final visible appearance will not be met with fear or anxiety, but will be a welcome and expected celebration.

This is truly where the hope of the Christian life intersects with the hope of eternity. We are able to continually serve others in the confidence that God has called and empowered us for the task. We do not give up, because we know this is not all there is. We keep on, because we know we are experiencing a taste of the kingdom, in the sure and certain hope that we will experience it in its fullness when Christ returns.

Waiting is not wasting. Waiting is maturing and growing. Waiting would be impossible if there was no purpose or hope for an ultimate fulfillment. At Christmas, we remember not only that God came to earth once, but that he is coming again.

I’d love to say more, but I have a wedding to get ready …

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