It is Advent again. We call this time Advent because it reminds us of what comes from God for the creation of his kingdom on earth. We who are here have been led in a special way to keep what is coming on our hearts and to shape ourselves according to it. That which comes from God - that is what moves our hearts, not only in these days but at all times. That which is to come from God is the most important thing we have, in the past and in the present as well as in the future. It is only in God's coming that even the Bible itself has value to us, let alone all the other things we call "means of grace." Unless what comes from God is a part of it, it remains like a dead seed and does not achieve what must be achieved if God's kingdom is to be.
There are many today who sigh to heaven, "Savior, come now!" But they are not sighing for the sake of God's kingdom. They cry out like this only when they are in trouble and want God to help them. And they don't know of any help that is more effective than to have a Savior come and put a quick end to their troubles.
When it comes to the things of God, however, we must not be concerned for what is ours, but only for what belongs to Christ. We should do this not merely for our own edification; we must become workers for God. This leads us to God's vineyard, a place where there is not a great deal of talk, but where everyone is intent on deeds.
This is what it means to prepare for Advent. Jesus says, "Be ready for action, and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet...blessed is the slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives" (Luke 12:35-48). Here Jesus is speaking of his disciples and their preparation for his coming. Take note that God's kingdom is not formed by any human discovery or intention, however daring and noble, but by the coming of Christ. Our faith, our ardor, must be for this coming. Otherwise it would be better to put aside our meditations on Advent. The reign of God is a marvelous thing. To worldly wisdom God's kingdom seems like foolishness, and yet it gives shape to the whole world, the whole creation, making it God's eternal coming.
But look out! When someone holds a light in his hand and shines it here and there, he is immediately asked, "What business have you here?" Thus so many people let their light go out again. It is too awkward, too inconvenient to keep holding up a light and showing people the dirt and saying, "There, clean that up; the way you are doing things now isn't right in God's eyes. Cut off your hand! Tear out your eye! Cut off your foot!" - as Jesus says, figuratively, when there is something about the hand or eye or foot that stands in God's way.
This is what it means to watch. If you look for the truth in small matters you will not go astray in big ones. You will be able to recognize truth there and carry out the command that comes. Let us keep staunch in our eagerness to do whatever comes to us of the truth. Then there will be knocks on our door, over and over, and God's coming will not be hidden. For devoted hearts the light will keep dawning from him who is merciful and compassionate.
This article is an excerpt from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.