(There is no Advent-ure Time 1, don’t go looking for it; I\it was Thanksgiving so I didn’t do a blog last week.)
This Sunday marks the beginning of the second week of Advent.
The second week of Advent has an almost Lenten feeling to it. In most traditions, it honors John the Baptist. What was John’s message?
“Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
While we focus on the joy and peace of Christmas, we would do well to remember John’s message. It is a reminder to us that the coming gift is not something we deserve. That, in the midst of gift buying, meal planning, and holiday decorating, we should take a moment and remember who we are and who he is.
I think the image of Jesus being born in a place for animals is particularly apt. I grew up around, and sometimes in, barns. I know that even a “clean” stall is not the same as a “clean” bedroom, much less a hospital birthing room.
No, Jesus came into a dirty, messy place. Full of dirty, messy us. Jesus came, not so we could clean ourselves up to meet him, but so he could clean us up to meet him.
John understood that even in our best religiosity, that of the Pharisees and the Priests, we are just covering up dirt. We are not actually clean, we just are trying to put the best face forward. The problem is that we begin to believe the illusion. We begin to think that our own effort, our own merit, is good enough, that it is what saves us. We are so wrong.
I see this even among Christians. We were, at one point, sure that is was not by works but by the gift of God, but somewhere along the way, we began to think that our traditions, our habits, were the essence of salvation. We tend to forget Grace. We tend to forget that we NEED Grace.
So, on this coming second week of Advent your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to remember you need Grace. Remember why you need Grace.
Prepare for Christmas by focusing on your need for it.
And get ready to receive it.