Christmas preparations are surely underway by now! The food, the presents, the drink the TV are all beckoning. In all the busyness of the season, advent reminds us that not only did God come into our world in the person of his Son as a baby in a manger, but that Jesus Christ will also return to judge the world. So, it is good to be reminded of what this means for each of us. Jesus said “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back….” Mark 13:34-35. We do not know when Jesus will return with power and great glory and he commands his followers to be ready, to be serving him each with their assigned task. We need to be keeping watch ready for his return. How? The apostles elaborated “…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying “peace and safety” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you brothers, are not in darkness that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled….” Ultimately being ready for the return of Jesus Christ on judgment day is to have put our faith in him and so to be sons of the day, sons of light. Without this, we face sudden destruction because we remain in darkness. But for Christians, we are already sons of the day and so we can enjoy a spiritual alertness which is expressed in self control. Now of course feasting is encouraged in the Bible, eating good food and enjoying good drink. But there is the real temptation that we go to sleep spiritually and end up dulling our spiritual senses with too much! However, if we are alert, if we are looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ, so we are strengthened in our self-control. So, as we celebrate the first coming of Jesus, may we be those ready for his second coming by being awake, alert and ready, filled with the Spirit, looking forward to the return of Jesus, which means we are alert and full of self-control, for his glory and our good!
With much love in Christ, John.