It’s normal to feel a bit of a let-down after Christmas, right? People are gone, the house is a mess, the office is quiet, I count how many calories are in a Christmas cookie and how many cookies I ate… and stop counting…
I wonder if that isn’t an important piece of the Christmas experience? That lull after the hubbub of the holiday? We had stars and angels and wise men and a baby…So, now what? Well, not being a theologian, my take on this next part goes like this:
Now, we act.
Now, while the baby is growing and learning and preparing for his ultimate purpose, so should we.
Now, in this post-holiday blur, we tend to what’s in front of us. We clean up the mess, we get back to the gym, we reconnect with the everyday and we continue on our path leading to our ultimate purpose. We set about tidying our corner of the world to make it more heaven-like, here and now. God’s arrived on earth: now we need to clean the place up for his presence. We don’t dust and sweep and polish because he needs a clean spot: we make the effort together so we see what’s in store for us. We create God’s kingdom right here, right now, with the people around us. We honor them by putting our best foot forward; by offering to share our food and whatever we have.
Charities all over the world experience an influx of gifts and donations during the Christmas season---we suddenly remember the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the neglected. Now that we’re moving past the intensity of the holidays, those same challenges await. People need us all year ‘round. And we need them. Our paths are different but every one of us has challenges and disappointments and barriers. Walking together and sharing the load helps all of us.
The world needs you---and me--- and our energy now. This creating a version of God’s kingdom on earth takes work, it takes the skills of all of us. A place where we can all eat well and sleep in peace, where we can find meaning in our work and satisfaction in our efforts, where we can care for our families and laugh with our friends: that’s one version of heaven on earth, and it’s the work I think Jesus calls us to do. So by all means, take a breath. Recover from the hoopla. But don’t take too long. A kingdom awaits.
Like many of you, my days this time of year are filled with activity. The workplace of Trinity is no different. We’re just coming off Candlelight, with its choral and instrumental musicians opening the season of Advent. I may not have paid a lot of attention growing up, because I am only now starting to understand what “Advent” is: a season of waiting, anticipating and hoping for the arrival of Jesus.
As we wait, we are told to keep alert, to stay awake so that we do not miss his entrance. Now, how could we miss the gigantic, spectacular, light-and-life-giving event that will be the return of Jesus Christ?? Well….. let’s think about that. The first time he came to earth, he came as a baby, born in a stable. And while there was a bright star, it doesn’t sound like the whole globe resonated with the news of his birth. No big parades or feasts were held. It was fairly easy for the baby to slip unobserved into the world and its people.
I am sure I would know how to behave if a shining , larger-than-life celebrity King appeared. But how would I react if I saw a ‘regular’ guy? If we didn’t get the cues that THIS is our Savior? What if we just acted the way we acted whenever we cross paths with a stranger? Hmmm… now that might give me pause. Am I always as friendly, kind, generous and gracious as I could be, when facing someone I don’t know? And what are the odds He arrives on my “best day?” Will I be looking sharp and feeling fine? Or might I be rushing from one meeting to another, trying to accomplish my long “to-do” list? Is there a chance I would just nod at the person approaching me, as I talked into my cell phone? Could I MISS Jesus???
These are the thoughts that glide through my mind at this time of year.
So, I am trying to remain alert and to stay awake. You never know when we might have the chance to smile into the eyes of Jesus or to offer him a Christmas cookie, or to make room for him on the pew beside us. If that baby from the manager was a tired toddler waiting in line with his mother, or a teenager in a dirty coat at Target or the slightly wild-eyed woman trying to ask you for some change in the parking lot--- would we recognize Jesus?
It’s so tempting sometimes to want to just come to a lovely church service and sit quietly and soak up the peace. But I think we are told to keep alert and to stay awake so that we don’t get too comfortable. Christianity (to me) isn’t about being comfortable. It’s about seeing Jesus, right now, in all the people he loves. He’s giving us the chance to love him through them. I hope I am up to the task.