Our culture tells us to “be prepared” from the time we are children. Even the Gospels hold stories and parables warning against unpreparedness. And in this season, in particular, the threat of being “unprepared” on Christmas morning–without the required number of gifts perfectly wrapped and under the tree, without all of the groceries to make what is certainly an over-abundance of food and treats, and without the house filled with tasteful decorations worthy of a spread in Martha Stewart’s Living–drives most of us who are level-headed throughout the other eleven months of the year into a certain frenzy of fearful shopping and wrapping, as if the Christ Child will not come if we do not trim that last hearth.
But think about what the Gospel is trying to say to us. Jesus never claims that perfection must be met to enter the Kingdom of God. God does not call us to be perfect; God calls us to “go on toward perfection” in a never-ending journey of pursuit that brings us nearer and nearer to the heart of God. It is not an “either-or” phenomenon that leaves us “in” or “out” but rather a walk of preparation throughout one’s life. Jesus’ admonitions to us to “be prepared” did not imply that we would not enter the Kingdom if we were not fully prepared but, rather, that journeying through the preparation itself would enable us to encounter the holy, the sacred, a glimpse of the incredible things to come even now. It does not have to be perfectly in order; it is the journey toward it that brings us closer to God. That is what Advent is about.
So go forth and prepare just for the act of preparing!
Grace and Peace,