Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. (Matthew 24:42-43, Common English Bible)
Option 1: Bounce out of bed, ready for everything the day will bring you.
Option 2: Pull the sheets back over your head and commence playing the snooze game.
If you are anything like me, you choose option number two. The ironic thing – or it is a paradox? – is that the alarm clock has already done its job. It has jarred you awake. It has disrupted your sleep. And even though you play the snooze game with the alarm clock, chances are if you do manage to go back to sleep, it won’t be that really good sleep you had before the alarm clock.
Every once and awhile we experience a spiritual alarm clock. We experience something that wakes us up to the reality of God in our midst. Mission trips and retreats are known for waking people up to seeing God in their lives. A powerful sermon or worship experience can do the same thing. It jars us just enough out of our norm, out of our sleep, to wake up and see God again.
In some cases, we are awaken to the absence of God in the actions of others. We may experience some horrific injustice that wakes us up to the reality that we have so easily overlooked. Think Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire witnessing the “peacekeepers” keep peace by murdering a man in District 11 for showing solidarity with Katniss. The experience is something that Katniss cannot easily forget.
How often have we witnessed some injustice and pulled the sheets back over our heads to ignore it? Children living in poverty. Veterans begging for food and money on street corners. Drugs being sold in middle schools. Children killing children. Parents abusing their children.
Advent is about waking up to the realities of where God is and where God is not. Advent is also about discerning where and how God is calling us to those Godless places in our societies.
Let us heed the alarm, wake up, and be true peace-bearers.