Our gospel lessons this time of year are full of warnings and proclamations. Last week we heard Jesus say,
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
This Sunday’s gospel lesson, we hear Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist proclaim,
“The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
We do not like to be caught off guard. We like to be prepared. Jesus and John give us plenty of forewarning, but they do not tell us how we shall prepare. They expound largely upon the event that will happen, but they give us no description of what we ought to be doing to ready ourselves for it. Jesus and John’s words should not come as a surprise. Our Christian hope is that Christ will one day return again to reign. So how do we prepare? How do we keep watch? How do we live our lives alert and awake for the coming of “that day or hour?”
If you were to walk into the parish hall this week, you would get one answer. On one side of the room are wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons, the various Christmas wishes of our adopted angels through the Angel Tree program in Madison County. On the other side of the room are stacked high, moving boxes (which is the only time I receive joy from seeing so many moving boxes) full of various food products which will provide meals for families in Madison County. Doing unto the least of these is a great way to be aware, to keep alert, to stay awake, and to live our lives in the hope and expectation of Christ’s coming again.
In the “EYC” folder in my desk drawer, there is a card with a picture of Waylon in it. The card is a thank you to the Chapel EYC from a few years ago when I was in charge of the youth. Waylon was one of our angels the youth adopted and shopped for that Christmas. The card reads “Your heart for foster children is a blessing.” I have kept that picture of Waylon as a tangible reminder of the joy we bring to children and families each year through the Angel Tree at the Chapel of the Cross. I hope when the Master does come, he finds Waylon and other children like him smiling, because we kept awake, we kept alert, and we did unto the least of these.