It is strange to talk about a lack of urgency during Advent. If anything, December is full of too many things to do and too little time to do them in. There are parties to plan and decorations to put up and cookies to bake, Christmas pageants to get ready for, presents to buy and wrap and Christmas cards to send. Just thinking about it all can wear me out. Yes, there is much to do, but this is not the type of urgency Advent is supposed to be about.
Advent is about getting ready for Christmas – the commemoration of the Birth of Christ. It is also about getting ready for the second coming of Christ. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent speaks of this end-time event. Luke tells us that “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the turmoil of the ocean and its waves; men fainting away with terror and fear at what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” (Luke 21:25-28)
The end is coming for each of us and for the world and we do not know the day or the hour. We often hear reminders to live each day as if it were your last. Attempt to live with no regrets. Embrace life to the fullest. This is all good advice, but in the midst of everyday busyness, it is difficult to maintain such an attitude every day. We often get caught up in the muck of everyday living. There is so much to concern ourselves with, so much to attend to. It is ironic that during December, a month that is filled to the brim with things to keep us occupied, Advent invites us to focus on the things that truly matter.
Barbara Rossing, author of The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation is quoted in the December 2009 issue of “U.S. Catholic”: “We need to reclaim an urgency about our mission . . . an urgency to be sowing seeds of the kingdom of God, like in the New Testament communities. It’s an urgency to love our neighbor, to feed the hungry, and to obey Jesus’ commandments . . . Time is short, and we have to be about something important.”
Each of us is given 1440 minutes every day to make the most of; twenty-four hours to love and serve one another and share the joy of being Christian. During this season of Advent, may we take the time amidst the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas to reclaim the true urgency that following Jesus Christ requires of us.