The pastor of a large urban parish did a TV series called “The Kingdom of God.” Each week on the morning after the show aired he would visit sick parishioners in the hospital. On one such visit, he received an unusually enthusiastic greeting from a man who had been hospitalized for weeks. Said the patient, “You’ll be glad to know that we all watched your program last night. There was only one TV available in the ward, so we had to decide by majority vote what programs we would watch. During your time-slot, it came down to ‘The Kingdom of God,’ or ‘American Idol.’ You won by one vote.” Said the pastor later, “I thought to myself that when we can beat ‘American Idol’ with ‘The kingdom of God’ at, last, we’re headed in the right direction!”
“Don’t ask me about what was, but what is to come,” the Apostle Peter told the early Christians. He was pointing them in the direction of the coming again of Christ. We present day Christians, if we are true to our calling, are pointing in the same direction.
If we are true to our calling, we are instruments of and witnesses to the coming of the rule of God, the coming of the fullness of the kingdom of God. But, always we are confronted by the gnawing question, the ever-present question, “Though we have been pointed in the right direction, are we on our way, at last?” This is what the Advent season is all about. It puts the question before us, head-on. It calls us to repentance. It tells us that to be on our way at last, we must be willing to make changes in our way of living.
Often we fail to be the signals pointing toward the beloved kingdom of love.
Often we fail in our efforts to cast off all traces of self-centeredness, egoism and pride.
“Stay awake,” Jesus says. “Stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming...if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!” (Mk. 13:32,35-37).
What we do know, what we are absolutely certain of is, of course, the reality of the Lord’s love and concern for us and the reality that He is with us now. The Lord wants us to be wide awake to this reality. The Lord wants us to be on the watch constantly for signs of his loving presence in our lives. The Lord wants us to be on the watch for each and every opportunity to be a sign of his loving presence in our relationships with other persons.
During the next few weeks continue to look for Christ in Christmas.
Bob Collier is the pastor of North Salem Church of God.