by Deacon Bob Olsen
Are you ready for Christmas?
Over the next couple of weeks how often will someone ask you that question? For the most part they are asking have you done your Christmas Shopping. Have you made preparations for holiday parties? Or plans for a vacation in Hawaii, Disney Land or Skiing? No theological questions are asked. Even if you are planning to attend a Christmas Eve service, is it to sing hymns about Christ’s birth in a manger and enjoy children’s pageants with shepherds dressed in their dad’s bathrobes, or is there more?
Have you thought about the other part of the Christmas season, looking towards Christ’s return? Are you ready for that? The Advent Season, the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas is time of anticipation – anticipating Christ’s coming to us as the child in the manger and ultimately as our Lord and Savior. A lot of the Old Testament readings and Gospels for this season talk about preparation for that unknown time when Christ returns and that we need to get our lives in order. But what does that mean, getting our lives in order? What is it we are supposed to repent from and turn our lives towards?
The Gospel of Saint Matthew gives us a hint at how to do that: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:31-46)
When the day and hour comes, that we know not when, will we be sheep or goats? Are we ready for Christmas?