I've been thinking about the words from the 1 Peter reading that closed out yesterday morning's Year A lectionary:
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
I find as I enter Advent, these words are probably just as good as anything. It feels like the send off a parent might give to a child as they slip them a twenty dollar bill as the kid goes off to college. And, in a way, that is what Advent is like. We are being sent off into a new year and new experiences that come with the cycle of waiting expectantly for Christ's entry into our world.
I say "our world" because that's what happens in this ritual of remembrance. The literalist will be looking for the "acutal, flesh and blood" return of the Messiah to fulfill the promise we recite at the Eucharist: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." But I don't think in "literal" terms when I consider the idea of the Messiah's return. Christ, for me, returns every year, like clockwork, at the end of Advent with Christmas Eve and the singing of "Joy to the World". And the question for me always at that moment is, "Am I ready for this?" It's all fine and good when we are in awe of this baby, whose majestic birth happens in a manger with animals and shepherds. But that is just the beginning. The baby grows up, and presents challenges to the status quo. If we agree to journey with Christ in this annual maturation, we might find ourselves challenged to see things differently and poked and prodded out of our comfort zones. And, with this being the "Mark Year," we're climbing on-board with the Christ who is the Doc Marten wearing no nonsense Messiah. He doesn't have time for games; Mark's version is the Christ of action. Now.
Time to get serious, be disciplined, and stay constant in love. Then, perhaps we'll be ready for the topsy-turvy ride with the newborn babe.