[Jason Bandura works with the Glen Elm Church of Christ and hopes to increase the attention he gives to Advent in this, his second year of observing the season. Anything that rescues meaning from the madness of Christmas for him and his family–wife Shannon and two sweet daughters–has his attention!]
Today marks the first day of Advent, and the reading on our Scripture schedule started the season with these words:
Romans 13:11-14: 11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
The current first-thing-in-the-morning rhythm within our household goes like this:
- Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
- Then a three-year-old silently breaks the stillness.
- With muted movements that would make ninjas envious, she enters our room.
- She approaches my side of the bed and gently reaches into the covers.
- Small and cold hand makes contact with the some part of Dad’s warm and slumbering upper body.
- Unconscious Dad goes from zero to sixty in under 4.0 seconds.
- And the day has begun.
To first-century Christians living in the decidedly famous and distraction-flooded city of Rome, Paul gives a gentle, two-word nudge.
Is it time for school? Someone late for work?
No, Rome’s “Jesus people” are to awaken in order to encounter a truth tight enough to clothesline them.
Salvation is near.
It is closer than we might guess, more immediate than ever before.
And in light of this impending explosion of salvation-tasting, Paul states what should be obvious.
Some things matter, and other things do not. Discard the latter to increase the space available and the force afforded to the former.
Paul then lists some members of the “dead weight club”, and they are hardly surprising. They are full-blown destructive ways of incessant immorality. However, the season of Advent, with its emphasis on waiting and preparation heightens the call even further for me. Of course, blatant sins should be left behind—everyday, we do battle with our fallen ways.
The Advent season sharpens our quest to battle for precious inches on the “field of focus”. Advent calls us to determinedly debilitate distracting patterns. Advent nudges us to drown out the hustle-creating and hassle-compounding noise that can crowd Christ right out of our calendars. Advent pushes us away from petty practices that prevent peace from falling upon us.
And it all begins with two loving words to our deepest insides: “Wake up.”