Sunday, December 03, 2006

Isaiah 1:1-9; Psalms 146, 147; 2 Peter 3:1-10; Matthew 25:1-13

Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:13.)

Advent is the time we have to get ready, to prepare our hearts and minds for the second coming of Christ. Today’s parable of the ten virgins stresses the importance of being prepared. Five of the virgins were foolish, did not prepare, and ran out of oil before the bridegroom arrived. Consequently, they missed the wedding celebration.

The most painful lesson I ever learned about the importance of being prepared happened during my freshman year in college. It was the 1970s, and I was a student at the University of Texas at Austin (“hook ‘em horns!”). I was part of an academic force 40,000 strong, rushing from one classroom to another in pursuit of higher education. The experience was exhilarating!

But the freedom was new. It was totally my responsibility to read assignments, attend lectures, and take exams. I was expected to be prepared. I was expected to be ready. Well, my intentions were good, but I blew it! Unread pages multiplied exponentially. Then there were the lectures I skipped, foolishly believing that I could remedy that by borrowing someone else’s notes. Soon, I was overwhelmed. I dropped half my courses and barely passed the others.

In college, I knew my deadlines; I knew the dates and times of the lectures and exams. But that’s not the case with the second coming of Christ. It could happen ten centuries from now or ten years from now or tomorrow. We simply don’t know the day or the hour.

As we rush through life in pursuit of our dreams, it is so easy to put things off until tomorrow, or next week, or later when we have time. Often, our intentions are good, but we fail to follow through. And so prayers go unsaid, kind words go unspoken, and good deeds remain undone.

Advent, then, is about praying and loving and serving now, today, this moment in life. It is about staying focused on what is truly important. It is about minding our hearts and tending to our relationships.

Heavenly Father, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, may we begin each day centered in the love and strength and guidance of your grace. Help us live each day as Jesus taught us so that we will be ready to stand before you, on that momentous day, joyfully anticipating life everlasting with you. Amen.

- Martha Olson

No comments: