Today's reading: Matthew 24:36-39, 44
... they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (verses 30 & 36)
For all that we can learn, discover, and experience of God, this one big thing is simply not given for us to know. And thank goodness for that!! Remember the old Schoolhouse Rock slogan "knowledge is power"? There are times when I am profoundly grateful that God has kept some information private. It is frightening to imagine how our power-hungry culture would use (abuse) such knowledge.
It's amusing, in a way, actually... we go so overboard at this time of year to celebrate the day he arrived the first time around... can you imagine what we'd be doing if we had a countdown calendar to mark off the days til his return?
Presumably, rather than decorating trees and wrapping gifts, our preparations would take a different tack. Would we be getting our own acts together, reassuring ourselves that we've been (at least mostly) not naughty, but nice? Would we be making our "to do" lists of confessions and forgivenesses, and checking them twice?
Or would we be darting around our world, like teenagers who hear mom and dad's car in the driveway, when the house is trashed after a wild party? Trying to clean up the mess we've made, trying to show that we really are responsible enough to be left home alone? Desperate to prove that we have taken care of our siblings, kept the place clean, finished our homework...?
Thankfully, we have not been given that deadline to count down to. And thankfully, God is grace-full and forgiving, and, I'm sure, understood fully what he was doing when he left the kids in charge down here. No doubt there are times we exceed his expectations, and other times when we completely blow it... and until he does return, we'll keep doing it over and over.
But in this season, when the observance of Christ's birth is so concrete, so expected, and very nearly commonplace, we are reminded that the Advent we experience is not just a symbolic rememberance of his first coming, but also a commitment to eagerly await his return, and to do our best to be ready for it... whenever it is.