But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
You know that feeling when you’re driving up a really big mountain (or maybe climbing the tallest loop of the roller coaster)? You can see behind you (although that’s probably not a good idea if you’re actually driving!) and you can see ahead–but only to the top. You can see where the top begins to round out its shape and give way to the other side but in your view, there is no other side. It almost looks like you’re just going to keep climbing and be propelled into the open sky, to lose control, to lose footing altogether. At this point, there is no way to plan at all. You just trust–trust that the mountain will gently curve its way to the other side and give way to another view, trust that the road on which you’re traveling actually DOES continue and that you will not fall into nothingness, and trust that, in just a moment, in just a moment…this climbing will end.
Advent reminds us that we’re sort of on that road. We feel it under us. We see it up ahead. But it continues beyond what we can see, beyond where we can comprehend at this point. And so we trust and we anticipate that what is up ahead and where we are called to go. The Scripture text (which we Lectionary readers read this past Sunday) exhorts us to keep alert, to stay awake. Maybe it could just as easily tell us to anticipate what is up ahead. I mean, weren’t you told that by your driving instructor all those years ago? Anticipate the road. I don’t think that means become a psychic or a mind-reader. After all, the Scripture reminds us that we do not know, that, in fact, we CANNOT know, that we are not at this point in our being, capable of knowing what is up ahead. Anticipating is not about knowing; it is about readying oneself, preparing oneself, maybe even feeling the road a little more deeply. Perhaps living with anticipation is about being so awake and so aware that you can actually taste the Presence of the Divine and know that Presence so deeply that life changes. If one begins to anticipate what is up ahead, one begins to live life as if the road is beginning to curve. As if…what would it mean to live “as if”? What would it mean to live as if peace were the norm? What would it mean to live as if poverty ceased to exist? What would it mean to live as if God’s Presence was so real that it literally permeated every thread of your being?
Advent is our calling to wake up, to anticipate and begin to live as if God has already come into our midst, because that’s EXACTLY what has happened. The call to keep alert is not a threat; it’s God’s gift to us. Stay awake, my child, for you do not want to miss it. Life is coming, a Life that you cannot even fathom how incredible it is. The road is beginning to round and another view is just up ahead. Be alert. You don’ want to miss it.
A dreamer is one who can find [his or her] way in the moonlight, and [whose] punishment is that [he or she] sees the dawn before the rest of the world. (Oscar Wilde)
FOR TODAY: What does it mean to be alert? What does it mean to allow yourself to be awakened to the presence of God in our midst? What does it mean to anticipate life, to live as if?
Grace and Peace,