Live in readiness. Be dressed for action. Keep your batteries charged. Jesus does not equate waiting with doing nothing.
Life is lived in the present, and Jesus has just instructed the disciples not to be anxious or afraid but to trust in the ongoing graciousness of God who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers (12:22-27). Yet, life is also about preparing for the future, waiting for the return of Christ.
Some, maybe most, in the early church expect Jesus to return within their lifetime. Such immediacy calls forth a certain kind of readiness: not holding on to possessions, not getting married, and, for others, foregoing work and relationships to live in the desert.
Now, centuries later, the ever-relevant call to readiness means something a bit different for most of us. We feel called to live each day alert, alive, and grateful. Many of us recite Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God’s creation fills us with holy anticipation and surprising wonder, so we must be awake and ready to celebrate.
The ongoing call to preparedness is not a disaster drill but faithful work to create a more just and peaceful world. Preparedness is centering ourselves in the grace and forgiveness of our loving God, looking for places where the light of Christ is present, and joining in the celebration and construction of the new reign of God. We can work for the kingdom to come on earth as in heaven as we live with joyful expectation and genuine acts of kindness and compassion.
Coming God, teach us to live with eyes open to see you working for good in your world and in our lives. Teach us to keep our hands open to receive your gifts and ready to work for justice and peace. Dress us in kindness, clothe us in compassion, and keep us awake to your presence always. Amen.
The prophet Isaiah brings a harsh message to the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Although they are performing sacrifices and observing feasts, they have lost their heart for God. God wants no more meaningless sacrifices but instead wants the people to repent. The psalmist proclaims a similar message from God. The people’s sacrifices have become pointless because they have forgotten God. The primary offerings that God desires are thanksgiving and ethical living. The author of Hebrews sounds a note of harmony, emphasizing that Abraham’s faith in action—not his performance of religious duties—brings him favor with God. Jesus teaches that we cannot rest on our laurels of having faith. Instead we should remain vigilant and continue to perform acts of charity, including caring for the poor, as a response to our faith.
Read Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Consider the author’s difficult questions: Is there blood on your hands? Does your worship lead you to acts of mercy and justice?
Read Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23. How do you offer thanksgiving as sacrifice and go in the right way?
Read Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. How do you demonstrate faith as a verb, not just a noun?
Read Luke 12:32-40. God promises us a bountiful kingdom, but we cannot take our worldly possessions there. How do you work toward living as if you are already in God’s bountiful kingdom? How do you help to create it?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.