Wake Up!

“Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep.” – Rom 13:11

Advent snuck up again. As we’re barely digesting our Thanksgiving meals, running after Black Friday deals, traveling back from visiting friends and relatives, Advent comes.

Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for Christmas. Yet, for many of us, it’s a not exactly a time to prepare in a way that enables Christ to be born more deeply in our lives. Too many responsibilities crowd our minds and hearts: completing papers and finals for the semester, putting up Christmas lights, shopping for gifts, sending out cards, preparing food, organizing and attending parties. When we are honest with ourselves, many of us realize that we prepare our houses and our bodies more than we do our inner lives. Many of us see this season before Christmas as an endurance test more than a time of spiritual nourishment.

To be honest, I am one of these people. I have prayerfully decided to hand-write personal notes to 1,200 annual appeal cards. It’s a good thing. Yet, the task is daunting, on top of many other responsibilities. When I hear Jesus’ injunction in today’s Gospel, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come,” my body tenses up, my breathing increases. Another task.

Yet, after some periods of pause, deep breaths, and remembering grace, something dawned. I began to recognize my overextension, self-reliance, and self-judgment. I’m caught in the same cycle of spiritual slumbering, again! Moreover, I realized that I didn’t want to change, that I struggle to “wake up.”

There is a story about some people who were on a raft off the coast of Brazil dying from thirst. They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water. The river was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea. In the same way, we’re surrounded with enough peace, love, and grace. Christ is already in our busied and hurried lives. God is with us as we are dying, thirsting for enough spiritual space!

As I slowly, slowly come to realize this incredible reality, I am waking up to Christ coming near. It’s a good thing we’re given the full 28 days of Advent for this coming near.

Dear Jesus, I ask for the desire to want to “wake up,” to let you be with me as I prepare for your coming.