“Prepare for Christ’s birth?” the child asked somewhat confused. “Didn’t Jesus already come?”
It was an honest moment that only slightly rattled the Sunday school teacher. Trying to explain the expectation of Advent while acknowledging Christ’s on-going presence in the world, he told the class the following story:
“Not long ago, I went to a Christmas party. All my neighbors seemed to be there, those I knew well and others I did not. It was the first party of the Christmas season and we were all excited and dressed in our holiday best.
I found myself mingling with the guests I knew well – Tom, my tennis partner . . . Kathy and Bill, whose daughter is in my daughter’s class – but decided, because it was the Christmas season, I should talk with others in the room. Across from me was a man named Jack who lived down the street from me. We always waved whenever we drove past each other, but never spoke. In the spirit of the season, I went over and talked to jack.
After a few introductory comments, Jack spoke of the day he and his wife bought the house in which he still lives even though she died ten years ago. He spoke of his service in World War II, as well as how the neighborhood had changed over the years. I shared things about my life, and suddenly we both realized we had talked through the entire party. We joked about the many times we had been in the same room over the years but never really talked to each other. As I left the party, I felt as if I had a new friend, a new neighbor, all because I made the effort to cross the room.
I think that’s what Advent is like,” the teacher explained. “Jesus is always with us, as if standing across the room from us, but we’re often distracted by the other guests or drawn to the ones we know well. Advent is about looking across the room, making the effort to talk with Christ, and coming to know Him and be known by Him as if for the first time.”
May we all look up from our day to day lives, cross the room, and spend time with the one who continues to be reborn each Christmas.