As we celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical calendar, we might ask ourselves this question: before preparing to come to church this morning, did you give any thought to this topic: "the coming of the kingdom of God?" I dare comment most of us are not terribly worried about this issue. Why? A simple answer:L we usually do not worry about anything that will not happen any time soon. During the days of Advent, on the other hand, God steps in and gives an answer to the same question. His response might be like this: "Because a wise person would not do otherwise." Also he might respond "Concern for the coming of the kingdom is the better way to live."
Despite what God might think or say, most of us find ti a challenge to worry about the coming of God's kingdom. There is something in you and me -- we the people of incredible technology. For us, waiting is a genuine torture. If we cannot multi-task, if we cannot have immediate pain relief, we are not happy nor terribly worried about significant matters that require waiting. It seems reasonable to suggest that be have become a people who have lost any sense of the values that can be discovered by waiting.
There was some 800 years between the days of Isaiah and St. Paul. Imagine what loss we would have endured if St. Paul had not realized that Isaiah's prophecy was not yet fulfilled. Surely he would not have taken on such a missionary vocation and we might not have had the wonderful insights that were given to him by Jesus in more than a few private revelations.
After the death of Jesus, when the apostles were out and about preaching and teaching the message of the Son of God and later the words of the gospels, Paul began to study what Jesus had taught and what he had spoken to Paul in his private revelations. It did not take the firebrand a long time to catch on. In all of his messages to the peoples he taught, Paul was saying in many different ways: "My friends, the time is ticking away." He was so committed to sharing his convictions about the coming of the kingdom of God that he wrote to all of us: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh." He was serious about the reality that there would be a day when we would be called to account for the life we have lived.
In the season of Advent there is a particularly challenging reality: to prevent the pre-Christmas days from becoming anything but interest in the preparations for the day of Christmas itself ... which is usually forgotten within two weeks after the holiday if not sooner.
This is the challenge that Advent brings to each of us: do what you can to make yourself keep your focus on the message of Jesus Christ. This thought came to me while preaching last evening. In the mornings, when you first get ready to leave the comfort of your sheets and blankets and you have put your feet to the floor, look down to those toes. Wiggle them a little. Then think: God gave me so much so that I can prepare myself for the kingdom of God. If I recall this each morning, there is no doubt in my mind that soon you will notice a change in your life. Thinking about the kingdom of God will be a daily prayer occasioned by wiggling toes!