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How can we prepare for the coming of Jesus?

Published 9:10am Friday, November 30, 2012

Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk, by Katie Fick of Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches

A new church year is beginning this Sunday with the season of Advent. Advent means coming. It is a season in which we await the coming of Jesus, as a child born at Christmas (spoiler alert!) and as a savior coming again at some future time we do not know. Advent reminds us of the wonderful way God plays with time: Jesus came to earth as a human being long ago, Jesus is present in our lives each and every day, Jesus will come again for the final fulfillment of God’s promises. He was here, is here and is coming.

Advent also has an element of preparation, in the sense that any sensible person knows that when something is coming, you prepare for it. When my in-laws are coming to stay, I know to change the sheets in the guest room, to scour and dust and clean the house, to stock the fridge with enough food for everyone, and to check out community activities to see what we can do together. I know that Christmas is coming, which means I am planning worship services and making present lists and coordinating family get-togethers. When you know something is coming, just sitting around will get you in trouble.

But how do we prepare for the coming of Jesus? Something tells me clean sheets and presents under the tree are not the answer. The Bible is full of images of alertness, keeping awake, your lamps trimmed and burning. In other words, God is around and active and will be breaking into the world in a new way again. Keep an eye out.

We also have the stories of John the Baptizer, calling people to repentance and forgiveness. Jesus is coming after him and John prepares people by encouraging them to repair their relationships with God and each other. There is something about receiving and giving forgiveness that prepares us for the coming of Jesus, that touches the kingdom of God, that fulfills part God’s ultimate promises.

As I write this I can think of people I know I should contact, to ask forgiveness, to repair relationship. There are people I simply need to connect with again. There are also people in my life I need to forgive. I feel a need to spend some time in prayer and confession with God. This is perhaps harder to do than find gifts for all my nieces and nephews. I don’t know how much I will be able to do. But I also feel a call in my life this Advent to not just prepare for Christmas, but for the coming of our lord Jesus Christ.