One of my favorite activities in all the world is to be early for something. You don’t believe me? Ask my wife. (Of course it seems one of her favorite activities is to be marginally on time or even late for things) But I love to be early for all sorts of events. I love arriving early for movies (I’m really good at the trivia), for church (and not just because it’s my job), or even for dinner. But one of my favorite places to be early to is the airport. Specifically I love being to the airport early if I am picking someone up. Anticipating the arrival of someone, granted it’s usually close family or friends, at an airport has always been a great experience. However, my favorite of these experiences was when we joined about 80 or so others to welcome home Amelia, our close friends’ adopted Guatemalan daughter, who we had been anticipating and praying over for almost eight years. The excitement in the room was tangible and as we saw her come through the doors with her parents and brother (granted she was now one of seven) the place exploded. And then it got so quiet you could feel the holiness of that moment in your very soul. I’ll never forget that arrival for all eternity.
2,000 or so years ago the world experienced a similar arrival. The world had been waiting with eager expectation for the fulfillment of prayers, prophecies and longing for something better. For things to be set right. For messiah to arrive. Then suddenly the night was shattered by the voices of an angelic chorus announcing to the world His arrival. “I bring you good news for all people…Glory to God in the highest and on the earth peace to those favored by God” (Luke 2:10,14) And then the earth was silent again. A holy stillness lay upon the earth as most did not even recognize the salvation that had been ushered in.
Today in the church we celebrate this anticipation of Christ arrival as the season of Advent. Advent is a Latin term that means “to come” and so the practice of Advent is literally the practice of anticipating the once and soon coming arrival of Christ. It is as if we take on the voice of the prophet, “A voice of one calling:“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5 The fear that I have is that we might find ourselves not ready as much of the world was at that first arrival. Maybe because we just forgot what it is like to anticipate His arrival. Maybe because we have fallen out of practice in welcoming Jesus. Jesus may not come to us with angelic announcement every time. Maybe He comes to us in the form of a child, the least of these, someone needing food, clothing or shelter, etc. and the question before us…are we ready for his Advent? It’s time. May we prepare our hearts for the once and future coming of our King this season.