Stay Awake

Our lives are inevitably shaped by those for whom we wait. “You’d better not shout, you’d better not cry, you’d better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.” As children, we looked at the season of Advent as waiting for great surprises.

As we grow older we realize our lives are inevitably shaped by those events in our lives that change us. In our Gospel, Jesus’ warning of  “Stay awake'” has to do with having clear vision. We are to see what in our lives needs to change. We are also to see how our good living now is already preparation for the unexpected Second coming of Christ.

Advent always begins by looking to the second coming of Christ. Advent is not just looking into the future. Christ came in the past and Christ is coming to us now in Word and Sacrament and in each other.

Our behavior is inevitably shaped by the one for whom we wait, for there is a sense in which even as we live out our days in the interim, we already possess and are possessed by the one for whom we wait.

Karen, a student at Union Theological Seminary, was living and studying in New York City while her newly lawyered husband had gone to work for a law firm in Harrisburg. They saw each other only on weekends. In homiletics class, Karen described what her Fridays were like when John came into Pennsylvania Station on the train in time for supper. “I usually get up early on Friday to clean the apartment before coming up here to school,” she said. “Then, after classes, I make a kind of safari down Broadway. I stop for groceries, pick up a bottle of wine, stop at a favorite flower stall for fresh flowers, and when I get home, I have just enough time to get myself and supper ready. Then John comes.” Only Karen went on to add, “The funny thing about it is that from morning until he arrives, I have this strange feeling that he is already with me…not really…but really.

In Advent the one for whom we wait is already here shaping and giving substance and hope to our lives. Not really..but really.