The road to the little island where I live is a curvy mess right now. A two-year road improvement project is underway, and while we will all appreciate the raising of the surface that will mitigate some of our flooding issues and with wider shoulders that will protect bikes and walkers, living with the project is a challenge. We are forced down to one lane in as many as three different spots to accommodate the heavy equipment and the diligent workers. Human and mechanical stop/slow indicators are the norm now, and you never know how many you will encounter on a trip. This road is the only way off the island, so many of our conversations with neighbors sound like accounts of a great gambling adventure where we brag about not having to stop at all or only having to stop once. Having to stop three times can make you late for appointments … just ask my church Administrative Assistant, who also lives back here. When I get to the office and am late for a meeting, the first thing we do is compare our journeys.
The most challenging part isn’t even the added time it takes to complete to your journey. It is not knowing what is around the next corner. Because of the number of blind curves in the road, you can find yourself sailing along at the high speed of 35MPH only to have to slam your brakes on when you realize the cars in your lane are standing still at the stop sign, which you couldn’t see due to the curve.
That is exactly where we are in this last week of Advent. Christmas is literally around the corner, and here we sit at a stop sign waiting for the signal to change.
Some of have arrived at this stop sign in a moment of panic, realizing that we aren’t entirely ready for what is to come in less than a week. The panic shopping has begun as we search through Amazon to find what can be delivered before Sunday. The aisles of the local stores are crowded with people like us who, for whatever reason, got behind in our preparations and thought we had more time. Others choose to try to find last-minutes sales and they have waited here on purpose.
We have talked a lot this Advent about the season of waiting for the first coming as a preparation for anticipating the Second Coming. This is a particular emphasis of this lectionary cycle. Cycle A does not allow us to linger lovingly at the baby’s manger but continues to push us out of the creche to confront the reality of the Second Coming. We breeze though the nativity with a nod to its participants on the way to what lies beyond the crucifixion. We are invited to consider the end of this means.
Titus pulls us in that direction. What is hidden around the Christmas Day curve is the reason for Christ’s arrival on earth. We are reminded of the things that he purchased on the cross: forgiveness for all, salvation for all, a changed life while we wait, and the excited expectation of the Second Coming:
Titus 2 (The Message)
11-14 God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.
While you linger in your festive living room, sitting by the lit Christmas tree and go over your plans for Christmas Day one more time, remember what he came. Jesus came to be a light in the darkness of this world, He came to conquer it and lead us to a future with hope. He came in humility but will return in glory. He was born to save souls and will return to resurrect the Body. He lived a life judged by men but will come back to judge mankind. His crucifixion will be completed with his coronation when all the world will proclaim him king.
He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
So be energetic in goodness as you wait. Everything we have longed for is just around the corner.
The Forest for the Trees by Mary Anne Mong