Advent is a time of watching and preparing for the coming of our Lord. We watch in fascination as the Holy Family-to-be walks to Bethlehem and is turned away at every hotel, motel, or Holiday Inn. We remember the Virgin Mary as she sits atop a donkey and ponders what it means to carry the Christ child. We look upon the face of Joseph as he holds the reins of the donkey. His face is set and determined but we can’t help but notice the look of awe, wonderment and fear. It is a time of fascination and wonder. And, it’s also a time to remember that Jesus promised that he would return. He came through on each promise and now we wait for the fulfillment of his final one – to return.
When Jesus was lifted up into heaven, the angels told the disciples and on-lookers that Jesus would return in the same way they saw him depart. (Acts 1) So, this season is about looking up to the clouds and anxiously awaiting Jesus’ return while we also remember his birth.
So what’s the deal with the cryptic announcement in our bulletin? Starting this past summer, many people exchanged names and became secret pals with someone else in the congregation. And, on the first Sunday of Advent, the secret pals will be revealed to one another.
Each recipient will have an envelope with their name on the front. Inside will be a picture and contact information for their secret pal – the one who has been writing and praying for them in secret.
Apocalyptic writers of the Bible tell us that all will be revealed and I think that really means everything. I expect that kind of revelation to happen in heaven, but the apocalyptic seers and writers seem to indicate they believe it will happen during a particular generation. And, as a tradition during each Advent season, we wonder if it will happen during our time.
About this Great Revealing (and Reveling) that is to happen with Christ himself returning with the clouds, I wonder if it will be also like the secret pal’s envelope. At that time, will we receive an envelope which will reveal when Christ was in our lives? Will we get pictures of people who helped us when it was actually Christ himself working through them? Or, perhaps, will you receive one that shows when you were like-Christ for someone else. As you ponder that, I’d like you to think about which envelope is bigger – the one signifying when Jesus helped you or the one where you were the hands and feet of Christ for someone else. For me, I definitely see the envelope of someone being Christ in my life as much, much bigger than when I was Him for someone else. It’s more like a FedEx truck delivering an entire filling cabinet of full of times when Jesus helped me in my life. All the more, though, that image of the filing cabinet makes me want to be his ambassador here on earth.
- Fr. Marshall