Advent Reflection: Developing Patience
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
I was a pest as a little kid. As a two-year-old, I wanted someone to play with, and something to do, all the time. My father was trying to write his doctoral dissertation, and my mother was on a trip to the Holy Land. My father discovered a great babysitting device. He knew that the Good Humor Man and his traveling ice cream truck would come down our street every afternoon at about 4:00. Each day at noon, my dad gave me a quarter and told me to go sit on the front steps and watch for the Good Humor Man. I would sit there for four hours and never move, clutching my quarter.
I wanted to be sure I was ready when the Good Humor Man arrived.
Maybe I was slow on the uptake, but I really, really wanted to see the Good Humor Man. And so I was focused on being ready.
Being ready for someone, even though you don’t know when that person will arrive, is the heart of Jesus’s message in this passage. We cannot know when God will bring the Kingdom in its fullness—neither the angels in heaven, nor even the Son, know. Only the Father knows. All of the foolhardy predictions of the Second Coming and the world ending neglect these very clear words of Jesus.
We can, however, be prepared—and we can watch. This requires patience, because matters are not in our control. And it requires a readiness to focus on Christ throughout our lives.
How can we be prepared through patient watchfulness? As we prepare for Christmas, we can focus our attention on welcoming Christ into our lives each day, rather than getting caught up in the hoopla of our culture. We can discover opportunities to see Christ through ministry with those around us, especially the poor and vulnerable like Jesus was on that first Christmas morn. And we can, like that little two-year-old boy, be sure that we are looking for signs of the One for whom we are looking, wherever, and whenever, He arrives.
Image by Nicholas A. Tonelli. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do the distractions of the busy-ness of our culture, especially in the harried weeks of November and December (the season I call HallowThanksMas) distract us from being ready to welcome the Christ child into our world? What rituals or practices do you already have with family and friends to ensure a focus on Christ? What new rituals or practices might you cultivate this year?
PRAYER: Come, Lord Jesus, into our world and into my life and all of our lives, with the love and grace and joy for which we yearn. Forgive us of our distractions, and help us to prepare the room to welcome you. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: L. Gregory Jones serves on the faculty of Duke Divinity School, where he was the Dean from 1997-2010. He is the author or editor of 16 books, including Everyday Matters: Intersections of Life and Faith. Greg also serves as the Strategic Director of the Laity Lodge Leadership Initative. He and his wife have three children.
Image by James West. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.