Jesus is Coming. Look Busy
Jesus is Coming. Look Busy: This bumper sticker always makes me laugh in agreement. For those of us immersed in the life of a church, Advent is indeed a crazy-busy time. So many services to plan, music to prepare, seasonal discussions to lead, youth activities to organize, pledges to wrangle, budgets to draft and year-end business to wrap up. It is also the time of year to expect the unexpected.
For pretty much ALL of us, churchified or not, there is the prevailing pressure to “get ready” for Christmas. Readiness has everything to do with busy-ness, with the expectations we put on ourselves or allow others to place on us: the decorated house, shopping and cards, visiting, perhaps some amends-making. In the home of my childhood, Advent busy-ness even extended to us kids, who were given early stewardship lessons: if we expected gifts from Santa or others, we needed to demonstrate that we’d taken care of what we received last year, so we cleaned and polished toys, washed and ironed (remember ironing?) doll clothes, and set them all out on Christmas Eve for Santa to see.
Then in Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we were exhorted to be ready for Christ’s coming, or awake, depending on your translation. I could find no translation that said “Be busy, therefore.” Have we created a Type A Advent season? Yes.
In addition to the Nouwen book we are reading together, I am also re-reading Isobel Anders’ Awaiting the Child, an Advent Journal. The author penned it while pregnant with her first baby, and she explores the complexities and gifts of waiting, of “narrowing down” the world around her to be fully, quietly present to what she is waiting for. I pray that this can be our Advent vigil, as well: to be waiting, listening, awake and ready. It’s a tall order for many of us, but when, out of a faithful silence, we hear the first cry of the Baby Jesus, we will be changed.
“You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait.
For the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we are to go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So thank you … for the waiting time.”
A prayer from the Iona Community