When I was growing up, my mom used to say, “Often the anticipation of something is more enjoyable than the thing itself.” The older I get the more true I find this to be. Whether it is taking the kids to Disney or waiting for date night, the anticipation of something is a significant part of the enjoyment for me.
These days in the midst of this pandemic the thing that I most often anticipate is online delivery orders. I know this sounds a little crazy but I have developed a whole system of anticipation so that I get the maximum amount of enjoyment from my order. Doesn’t matter if it is long desired wood shop tool or just a bottle of vitamin C, I try to maximize my anticipatory enjoyment.
Here is what I do. As soon as the website where I made my online purchase gives me a tracking number, I click on it. Usually all they’ve done is printed a shipping label, but no movement yet. That’s okay because then the next time I check the tracking number SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED! YAY IT’S COMING! Get it? Then everyday I click on that tracking number and watch my package travel from wherever in the USA slowly making its way towards my house. Then when my package is “out for delivery,” I watch the front door for a brown box. I listen for the talking computer that lives in my kitchen to tell me a delivery has arrived. As silly as this sounds, it is really enjoyable for me.
With this in mind, I think the gospel this Sunday is less of a threat and more of an invitation to enjoy Advent/Christmas more. Let me explain.
In the gospel Jesus says we need to actively wait for the end of the world. He says, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” What does he mean? Jesus explains it is like a rich man who travels abroad and leaves his servants in charge. Jesus explains that they have to be ready for him to return any time. God forbid he return and find them not ready.
My whole life, I read this scripture like a threat. It’s as if, Jesus is threatening us with the end of the world. If not the end of the world maybe Jesus is threatening us with our coming death! I always felt like he was saying, “Better be good, because you never know when you’re going to die! Better watch out!” Yikes! But that is how I read it. I don’t think that is the whole story and the way we can know this that we read it on the first weekend of Advent.
Advent is all about preparing to welcome Christ again this Christmas. Advent is all about waiting and watching. Advent is all about Anticipatory Enjoyment! Instead of dreading the end of the world or our end, Jesus is trying to given us clues as to best enjoy this life!
Jesus is inviting us to live lives of anticipation. Jesus is telling us to wait and watch because good things are coming and we will lead the good life now by anticipating the good life of heaven.
What do you hear when Jesus says, “Be watchful! Be Alert!” I hope you hear his invitation to have the best Advent you’ve ever had. Don’t worry, anticipate with joy!
LIVE IT: Figure out a way to anticipate Christmas this year. Advent calendar, Jesus Tree, countdown calendar, traveling wisemen, put one decoration on your tree everyday, etc. When you do these anticipatory actions, say a simple prayer asking for Jesus to come and to fill your life with joy.