Be Ready: Advent 1

Be Ready: Advent 1

Year A, The First Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2022

Year A:  Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans  13:11-44; Matthew  24:36-44

CLICK HERE for links to video recordings of our services on Facebook. Available service bulletins.


Some of you will recognize the line, “Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.” That’s what the robot always said to young Will Robinson on the iconic series, Lost in Space.

Danger! Anxiety! Exhaustion! Distraction! Urgency!

These words seem to describe life in the world today. So many factors drive our sense of anxiety, distraction, and urgency. Turn on the news, and everything you hear and see is “BREAKING NEWS!” Now you have the endless banner running at the bottom of your TV screen so that you can get double doses of news.

Everywhere we turn, we feel pushed and pulled with growing anxiety about our future. We are asked to address every aspect of our lives with a sense of urgency.

We certainly hear danger alluded to in this morning’s Gospel passage, which is exhausting. Jesus seems to point us toward a life lived with some urgency.

Jesus appears to be talking about a time when he will return. But, Jesus says, “about that day and hour no one knows.”[1] Jesus is telling us that there will be no warning of this return, so we must be ready.

Advent is a season of anticipation. It’s a time of getting ready, and I don’t mean Christmas shopping.

There is so much to keep up busy. Believe me. I know. But instead of waking up to do more and more, maybe we need to wake up to rest.

We have this charge from Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, and yes, Romans is an authentic Pauline epistle about waking up. “Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep…!” Now, I like to proclaim loudly every morning after I check the sleep app that I have not slept enough. Every morning I check my Fitbit. I check my sleep patterns. Sometimes I get 2-3 hours of sleep, sometimes 6-7 hours, and it always reminds me how much deep or REM sleep I got. So I’m not thinking I’d be too happy to have Saint Paul yacking at me to get up.

And when I get up, I like to get on my “broom” and start flying from place to place, getting as much done as possible. Like so many of you, I live a pretty busy life, and I keep track of documents and lists organized in directories and subdirectories, almost all of which are stored in Dropbox. So when Dropbox decides not to synchronize computers, I have to tell you my life can become very complicated.

But I’m unsure how any of that makes me awake and ready for Jesus to come.

As we wake from sleep and prepare for Advent, what is Saint Paul calling us to? What is it that our lives are calling us to? Are all our waking hours to be filled with busy things and tasks to undertake?

When we wake up, we experience a shift in our state of alertness; we move from unconsciousness to awareness. We become alert and aware of the things and people around us. Often we are in a constant state of motion.

 Sometimes I can’t help but think that we’re supposed to slow down and rest during our waking hours because I find that a bit of a nap during the day can help me be ready and prepared.

Our churches give out Advent Calendars each year, and the heading is, ‘Slow down. Quiet. It’s Advent.’ If you haven’t picked one up on the way in, please make sure you pick one up leaving today.

In addition to the Advent calendar, we also have a book of Advent reflections; many have been written by college students active in campus ministry in Fredericksburg. Some of the reflections are artwork; some are poetry. The common theme for this booklet is rest and how important rest is in our life with Christ. Focusing on rest reminds us to ensure we are ready for Christ when Christ returns.

Jesus indeed tells us to keep awake. And to help us understand how important this is, he tells us the story of the owner of a house. He says that if the owner knew when the thief would break into the house, the owner would stay awake to keep his house from being broken into. Then he says, that’s how ready we need to be for the coming of the Son of Man—it will be an unexpected hour.

So, how are we supposed to be ready? What are we supposed to do?

Well, I don’t think we are supposed to be in a state of urgency, anxiously awaiting the return of Christ.

We don’t have to automatically scan the news channels waiting for the “Breaking News Announcement: Jesus Has Returned.” We don’t have to keep our phones at the ready, worrying we’ll miss Jesus’ text or Instagram telling us he’s back! I am pretty sure that’s not how we’re going to know he’s back.

Jesus tells us to be ready.

Readiness comes in many ways. Readiness comes from knowing and meeting the needs of others. Readiness comes from opening our hearts, minds, and souls to those most in need. Readiness comes from loving our neighbors. Readiness means being open to the experience of God in our lives when we are joyous and when we weep. Readiness comes from weeping when people are killed in mass shootings across our country.

The best-selling Christian author John Pavlovitz reminds us that God came to meet us in the low places of our lives – when we live humbly, when we seek forgiveness, in our grief and our suffering, when we experience joy, when we act on behalf of someone else, and when we pray. Pavlovitz reminds us that Advent’s origins are in a dark, cold stable with an empty manger.

An empty manger. I wonder if the people who think that our religious faith is supposed to give us magical powers or special knowledge that take us outside of the everyday reality of being human ever really think about that baby in a manger.

But we must remind ourselves that Jesus says to watch for that baby in the manger, wait and be ready for that baby in the manger, now and every day. Jesus is coming at an unexpected hour.

In Advent, we are offered an invitation into the world we are already in – an invitation to this world, this time and place. Of course, many of us would prefer that it be a different world. Nonetheless, Jesus tells us to be ready in this time and this place.

We don’t know when Jesus could surprise us. How are you ready for God’s coming? How can you be awake and watchful for the coming of God, whether in the final coming or in the daily visitation of God in our lives?

 We do that by truly living in it, by soaking up every grace-filled moment, expected and unexpected. Remember that Jesus uses the ordinary and transforms it into something extraordinary. Set aside the danger, the anxiety, the distraction, the urgency, and the exhaustion. Get that Advent rest and be prepared.

And remember, when Jesus comes, suddenly and unexpectedly, amidst all the noise of our lives, people will be going about their business as usual. So, be watchful, dear friends. Expect Christ’s coming, and be faithful in all you do because faith will prepare us and make us ready.


[1] Matthew 24:36