painting by Pieter Janssens Elinga, 1668-1672
Photo: Web Gallery of Art
And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.
(Gabriel speaking to Zechariah, from Luke 1)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;” he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21: 1-4
I hate to admit it, but about the only times my house is really top-to-bottom clean is when company’s coming. The rest of the time it’s a-lick-and-a-promise clean, with the debris of daily living strewn about, and the recycling waiting for me to take it out. It’s not terrible, but I’m just not one of those people who plans for sudden death by always leaving the house ready for people to come in and see it.
On the other hand, when folks are coming over I pull out the vacuum and scour the sinks and refresh the soap dispensers and put out the good hand towels. I will suddenly see dirt that was invisible for weeks, because I want my guests to be comfortable and to know that I made an effort for them. I don’t want to be trying to do things after they arrive. I want to be ready so I can give the visit my full attention.
If only company came every day….
Advent is a lot of that sort of preparation. We’re cleaning, we’re praying, we’re tidying up our homes and our hearts. Prepare!
If only Jesus came every day…
Perhaps that’s one reason why we say grace at the table:
“Komm, Herr Jesu; sei du unser Gast; und segne, was du uns bescheret hast.”
“Come, Lord, Jesus, our Guest to be, And bless these gifts bestowed by Thee.”
May each year of preparation bring us closer to lives of constant readiness.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a
mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Collect for the 4th Sunday in Advent