Luke 21:25-36; Revelation 3:20
How do you prepare for company? Many of us just had that experience on two Thursdays ago on Thanksgiving.
Isn’t it true, that the more special the company is to you, the more care you take in preparing for them?
Like most children I always looked forward to Christmas. But it would be and extra special Christmas if I learned that my Uncle Steve would be coming from Cleveland. He brought really great gifts, told great stories and really listened to me when I had something to say. Because he didn’t live with us, he fell into the “extra special company category, so everyone had extra chores to do. We also knew we had to be on our best behavior during the visit. It was worth it all. From the moment we heard a knock on the door and see him standing on the front porch with an armful of gifts, Christmas has come.
“Listen!” Jesus says in Revelation 3:20. “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and eat with him, and he will eat with me.”
That’s Advent’s message. Some time, some how, Jesus will come into your house, and into your life in new and greater ways. How can we prepare for this special guest?
Don’t Get Too Busy. Jesus says in Luke 21:34,“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”
Every year I need this reminder from Jesus. I’m almost thankful that it comes. When I haven’t paid attention, I get impatient with all the fussing of the holiday and can’t wait for it to be over so I can get some rest. Bah humbug! But that’s none of you here this morning.
Have you ever been had the experience of being so busy that you weren’t paying attention to Jesus Christ who stood right beside you? A few weeks ago I was at the 7/11 in Willimantic finishing shopping. My friend Patrick had given me a package of special holiday Haitian bread that he made. I looked forward to enjoying it for breakfast with all its cheesy goodness.
It was only as I was buckling up my seat belt that I noticed a beat up van. The doors were open and in it clothes were hanging on hooks and a mattress on the floor. A haggard man and woman were rummaging in it and were looking serious. As I pulled away, I wondered if they had enough to eat and thought about my Haitian bread. I drove about a mile or so and then turned around. But it was too late; they had already driven off.
It’s not always easy to hear Jesus’ knock at the door this time of year. Too often the sound is drowned out by the commercials, concerts, parties, shopping and whatever keeps us so busy this time of year. For some of us Christmas may come and go without ever welcoming this special of guest in our homes and hearts. To miss him, is to miss Christmas.
What would make for a more meaningful Christmas? What if we planned less and did less. Sometimes less is more. Jesus tells us to keep it simple and not to let the world set the pace and the mood for us. Jesus proposes a quietness in our in our homes and souls, so that we can hear him when he knocks on our doors.
Be Watchful. Jesus also tells us, “Be on watch…” (Luke 21:36)
We never knew exactly when Uncle Steve would arrive on Christmas Eve. Sometimes he’d have to work late. Other times it was a snowy drive from Cleveland. But he’d liked to surprise us; too, by taking the day off, arriving while we were still cleaning the house. So we all would go about our tasks, but regularly find ourselves looking out the window or going to the front door, or listening for a car to pull up into the driveway or that knock on the door.
I love the story of Martin the Cobbler who has a vision that Christ would appear to him that day. All through the day he is so excited and can hardly contain himself.
Someone knocks at his door. It’s a hungry family that he feeds. Another knock later and it’s a little boy who has lost his way. He helps him. And later still a homeless man knocks and the cobbler provides him with a place to sleep. The clock strikes midnight and the Christ has not appeared to him. He is bitterly disappointed and complains to Christ. “You promised that you would show yourself to me. That you would come. But you didn’t.” And the answer comes back, “No, Martin, you are wrong. I did come to you, not once, but three times this day.” And Martin then began to understand.
Christ chooses to come to us in many ways. We don’t know when or how this special company is coming. His knock on our door may come anytime. So we must live each moment with great expectation and watchfulness.
Pray. Jesus also says, “…and pray always…” (Luke 21:36)
Prayer is one of the best ways to prepare for the company coming at Christmas.
It focuses our attention on God. Prayer is the ears of the soul listening for any knock at the door. Prayer is the eyes of the soul looking for signs of God’s hand at work in and around us.
When company knocks at your door, walk to it, open it and say, “Come on in.” That’s what prayer is like for our souls. It’s like opening our hearts to Christ, saying, “Come on in.”
When Uncle Steve came to my house at Christmas, his room was made up special for him. We cleaned it. Put fresh, new sheets on the bed. Decorated it for the holiday. It became his room. It’s a lot like that special room in your life that Christ wants you to prepare for him this Christmas. It’s a room in your heart.
Have any of us here on this first morning of Advent already heard the Christ knocking? Have any of us heard it before and were just afraid to answer? . . .
Like I was in Willimantic with that tired and poor couple.
Don’t leave him on the doorstep. Let him come into your heart. During our hymn, pray as you sing that you may open the door of your heart for him.
May God bless us as we do.