First Sunday in Advent: Getting Ready

First Sunday in Advent: Getting Ready

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” –Matthew 24: 42-44

I love my four-year United Methodist Women Program Calendar! I have a pile of them going back to the 1990’s and it is a journal of my life. Whenever I first get the calendar, I go through and make note of the recurring events in my conference:  First Saturday in May, Spiritual Growth Retreat; First Saturday in October, Annual Meeting, and so on. When I am in a non-United Methodist Women meeting and someone asks, “Where did we hold that event three years ago?,” I can turn to my trusty calendar and say, “We met at Wesley UMC at 10 a.m.”  That always elicits the same response: They can’t believe we have a four-year calendar. I respond back that United Methodist Women is a busy organization and we have to plan ahead!

And could there be a busier time of year than Advent? There is something that needs preparation daily: house decorating, card writing, gift shopping and wrapping, program preparations, cooking and baking, party planning. It could wear a person out just getting dates on the calendar! But when do I schedule time for the essential things, the things of eternal value? How do I plan time to make sure that I am “ready?” Ready for what has eternal value and is not just a “save the date” occasion. 

So what is this time of anticipation and expectation really about? As we begin Advent this year, I’m hoping to take a longer view, not just what I have to get done this week, but what do I need to do to get ready for eternity. As the scripture tells us, none of us knows the day or hour that the Son of Man will come, nor when our time to prepare will be over. As I go through these next four weeks, I hope that I can relax more about the to-do list and concentrate on appreciating the real blessings of this season. If I concentrate more on the wonder in the children’s eyes when they hear the Christmas story (some of them for the first time), I hope I can focus on what’s eternally important. And if I put a priority on looking for those who are lonely or hurting at this time of year, gift-wrapping doesn’t seem quite as essential. Nothing on my list of things to do is more important than appreciating the gift and sacrifice of the One who came to assure my everlasting life. The best thing I can do this Advent is to keep watch and be ready—what a gift we have in store when we least expect it!

Prayer: God of today and eternity, please use this season of anticipation and preparation to help me see the truly essential things on my life journey. May my holy-day preparations be pleasing in Your sight and bring glory to Your Son. Amen.

Sue Raymond is a member of the United Methodist Women Board of Directors.

Posted or updated: 11/29/2019 12:00:00 AM

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Advent 2019

December 1: First Sunday of Advent
December 8: Second Sunday of Advent
December 15: Third Sunday of Advent
December 22: Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 24: Christmas Eve
December 31: New Year's Eve