December 18, 2006
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness covers the people, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.” Isaiah 60.1-2
The season of Advent is the season of waiting, and waiting, and waiting… seven days to go now. Year after year, we go through the same process: decorations, shopping, special worship services, family, food, parties. When Christmas finally arrives, the waiting for Christ is at high risk of being disappointed. The party is over; the friends and family go home, and we often find ourselves short on cash and long on pounds. Merry Ho-Ho.
There is a contemporary song – I don’t know by whom – that is basically one refrain: I looked up and I saw my Lord a’comin down the road… What if you looked up and saw the Lord walking down the road and turning onto the sidewalk leading to your home – right now, where you are, with what you are doing, and with everything the way it looks? Personally, I think of the supply of wrapping paper and boxes lying around and all the wrapping supplies on the dining table, gifts stacked in chairs or sitting around in sacks. There is hardly even a place to sit down!
But what of everything else He would find in your life when you answer the door and invite Him in? And maybe that is a question to be asked in itself: would you invite Him in, or are there too many things you would rather not have Him see? What would you do, how would you feel, if you looked up and the Lord was coming down the road to visit you?
He is. He is coming to you.
When we stop and think seriously about a visit from the Lord, specifically about God unexpectedly drawing close to us, when we really consider what that would mean, most of us react with fear and a strong desire to hide. Maybe we simply can ignore Him at the door. Do we really want Him to see our homes, our lives, our hearts? Deep down, behind the closed doors of our hearts and souls, there lurks a messiness and darkness we like to deny and often do. A light shining in there, especially the pure and perfect light of Christ, is an unpleasant thought at best, if not plain terrifying.
The great gift of the Incarnation is that God has entered into human history as it is, in all its dirtiness, filth, confusion and chaos. Without warning in the unassuming backwoods of Judea, the glory of the Lord poured out into the world, and the Son of God was born to the young girl, Mary.
Christ is aware of the darkness that covers the people, the thick darkness that covers the earth and pervades each of our lives. We like to pretend the dark is not there, but we unsuccessfully attempt to hide it from the Lord. We can pretend to others and even to ourselves that all is well and our heart, mind and soul are in great shape, but we know instinctively that we cannot hide the truth from Christ. Shining lights and rising glory are not something we willingly seek – which is why the Son of God came to us instead of waiting for us to be ready to come to Him.
We are never going to be ready to meet Christ, so we waste years preparing without opening the door and letting Him in, truly and deeply into our lives. It is the difference between trying to clean up sufficiently to welcome Him and allowing Him to clean up the messes in which we live. There is no darkness so deep that the light of the Lord cannot shine through it, if we wish Him to do so.
The season of Advent is the season of waiting. We are not really waiting for Christmas; we are waiting for the arrival of Christ. He knows our lives are not ready to meet Him. Yet, fear of what He will see and what He will say drives us to try to hide the deep darkness from the light of Christ, and His glory is not allowed to rise above us. Lift up your eyes and look. He is coming down the road to meet you, coming right into the middle of your life.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines upon you. As you wait through Advent, lift your eyes toward Christ and stand up. The Lord comes down the road to meet you, and He brings the power and freedom to move in spite of the mess of our lives and in the darkness of our world. Take His hand, and let Him lead. His glory appears and His light shines into the darkness of the past, the confusion of the present and the yawning mystery of the future. Stand up. Get ready to move and to live!
In Christ –
Ó Servants’ Feast Ministry, 2006