"Christmas is coming,
the goose is getting fat,
put another penny in the old man's hat..."
I'm not so sure about the goose, but as I look at the mirror I can definitely see that Christmas is coming. Here we are in the third week of Advent and the Fourth "week" is only two days this year! Are you ready? I don't mean the decorating or cleaning for hosting or any of that. I mean the most important (and often unintentionally neglected) part of preparation. Preparing for the arrival of Jesus once again.
Of course, Jesus never leaves us. He and the Father are within us through the Holy Spirit if we are baptized believers. But just like it is important to focus on the cross and tomb at Easter, so it is important for us to look to Christ’s first and second coming during Advent lest we get complacent and forget that we “know not the day or hour of my (Jesus’) return" (Matthew 25:13). If Jesus were to return tomorrow, we would not need to fear or dread but I’d want to prepare.
In last week’s Gospel "You brood of vipers!" are the harsh words said from John the Baptist. They summarize well the state of unredeemed humanity. But God is not content to let us alone in that pit. Rather he sends a rescuer, if we're willing to repent and follow him" And that rescuer makes us sons and daughters. The Laws of God (while unpopular) help bring an opportunity to turn around (repentance).
I see in this three urgencies in John’s words:
The Urgency of sharing the reality of the darkness of Sin with a world that ignores it
The Urgency of sharing the good new of God’s grace in sending Jesus to all who will embrace it.
The Urgency of preparing my heart once again for his coming so that I am not deadened to Christmas and most importantly at His final call.
So are you prepared? Perhaps you need to have a “come to Jesus” conversation with someone you love. Perhaps you need to invite someone to Advent or Christmas services. Perhaps your need to come to confession this Saturday sometime between 10AM - 2PM, or do a reflection on the year. As Bishop J.C. Ryle writes, John the Baptist's words are "a strong remedy for the desperate disease" of sin. But like any disease, the first step is accepting the diagnosis. Repentance is a gift for the Christian and non-Christian alike. Christmas is coming…Jesus is coming…are your ready?
(Cartoon By Mike Roberts)