I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying our New Year! Happy Advent everybody! As many of you know, Advent is a very important time in the Episcopal Church.
One, it marks the first day of the Church New Year! Second, it is a time where we celebrate and prepare for the coming of Christ.
Very excited time!
So I have an exercise that I want everyone to try out. Get out a piece of paper and something to write with...got it? Ok, here we go.
Think about a typical week in the life of you, what do you do, how often do you do it, how much time do you do that? For many parents, work will probably a pretty time consuming one, either around (or well over) 40 hours a week. For the youth, school. About 35 hours a week you are at school. Sports, homework, TV....really think about your normal schedule and write it down. And next to that, put down about how many hours you spend on that one thing during an average week.
When you are done making your list, just look it over. Find the one thing that you spend the most time on and place a 1 next to it. Then a 2 next the one with the second most amount of time next to it, and so on down the list.
Where does church fall on that list? Is it even there?
School, work, homework....I agree, these are all very important things. They should be. But when push comes to shove, more often than not, what gets cut out? Church.
When I was younger, I remember seeing a skit that was done at a youth retreat I was at.
There was a group of friends hanging out who all go off to meet up with other friends or go run errands, or to a sporting event. Among them is Jesus. Each time someone left, Jesus tried to follow. Each time Jesus tried to follow, they told him to stay. It ended with the last person pushing Jesus' arms to the side and then hitting him in the feet while yelling, "No, Jesus! You stay here!" as they walk off and leave the character of Jesus standing in the middle of the arm with arms spread wide.
A little corny, yes, but still can get a point across.
Are we called to be a part-time Christian? Is that even possible? Do we only put on our Jesus cloak when we go to church?
During Advent, we are supposed to be preparing for the second coming of Christ. We celebrate his coming while we look for the next coming of Christ. This is reflected in our service every Sunday in many ways! Can you name some ways that we do this?
So how do we prepare for the coming of Christ?
One of the best analogies for this concept is something I feel is very common in the most households. Children, youth, husbands...we all do this, I am almost positive.
We are asked to do something simple, vacuum the rug, sweep the floor, do the dishes, and are told to have it done before Mom gets home. So naturally we watch TV, update your facebook profile pic, text with your friends....and then, you hear a car pull into the driveway...
Immediately, you are up and flying across the room to do whatever chore you were suppose to already have done. Of course, I was working on this for hooooouuuuuurrrrsssss! There were so many dishes!
Moms are never fooled by this, they always know. Something that I learned young, Moms are generally always right, even when they are wrong. Kids, remember that.
So, I always felt disappointed after this happened. I didn't like disappointing my mother. She had done so much for me in my life and I couldn't even make sure that I got the dishes done? I owed her so much and I couldn't even manage to help her out? Come on, Matthew!
Does this sound like something that takes place in your house?
Or something EVERYONE does...someone says they are coming over...you immediately start cleaning up and throwing that pile of dirty clothes in the closet, closing doors to the messy rooms, light a candle so it doesn't smell, clean the bathroom (spit of the mirror, under the toilet seat, you know, the key spots)...
So this is Advent, a season to prepare for the coming of Christ...
We can't jump up and clean up really quickly for that. We can't just toss our mess into another room.
So, what is it that we are called to do? What is right? How should we prepare? Do we leave Jesus at church when we can drag ourselves there every now and then? Do we talk about these things with our families?
We don't do these things out of fear that God will ground us if we are bad. We do them because it is right and He is worthy.
So throughout Advent, I want you all to reflect on how you are preparing. Where is your focus in life?
Where should it be?
How can I bring Jesus with me, instead of leaving him behind?