I woke up this morning with Advent on my mind.
I was replaying in my head messages from friends and various Advent resources calling this moment in our lives a time of “gentle waiting.”
“Gentle waiting!” I thought. “Why are we engaged in gentle waiting?!?”
I’m fear that we are trying to tame Advent when we make this call. And I don’t think Jesus wants us to do that.
I mean, what’s gentle about the Gospel lessons we hear in this season? Jesus tells us to keep awake, therefore, for we do not know on what day our Lord is coming. (Do we really imagine that the owner of the house was waiting gently for the thief to come in the night?)
Paul says now is the time for us to awake from sleep, for salvation is nearer to us than before, and commends us to put on the armor of light. (Who puts on armor and then sits gently?)
John the Baptist bellows, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (How can we prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight if we aren’t doing something?)
Nowhere in those statements do I hear anything about gentleness.
Advent’s a wakeup call, all right. But it’s an urgent one. It’s a rough shaking of the shoulder to get us out of bed to do something. This is not your mother leaning over you and gently saying, “Wake up, my love ….” This is Jesus calling, and he’s grabbing you and shaking you and throwing back the sheets and yelling, “GET UP!!!! We have things to do!”
And looking at the world around us, we know that is true. We DO have things to do.
There’s the DREAM Act to be passed. And Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to be repealed. Unemployment benefits need to be extended.
The people in Sudan need our prayers and our advocacy, to prevent yet another war.
The people in Haiti need our help to fight cholera and build a nation devastated by the earthquake.
There are hungry people everywhere whom we need to feed, thirsty people who need clean water from us, ailing people who need our medicine and our care. There are children who need our love. The blind desire to see, the deaf want to hear, the mute yearn to sing with joy.
None of these things will be accomplished by gently waiting for someone else to step up. We are the ones who are to make the paths straight.
Advent for me is a time for action. It’s a time for us to look at the world around us and ask, “Is this really what we want to give to Jesus as a birthday gift? A world where so many have so little and we allow that?”
I woke up this morning with Advent on my mind, all right.
The call I heard was crystal clear: “Get cracking! Do the work you’ve been given to do – now! There’s no time to wait for someone else to do the work. Hurry! It’s Advent! Do something!”