advent candles

We are in a season of Advent.  Expectant waiting.  It’s an exciting time!  Preparations are made.  Presents are wrapped.  Menus are planned.  Travel arrangements are put into action.  The month of December passes relatively quickly, yet it’s meant to remind us of the long wait of God’s people for their Messiah.  “How long will you hide your face from us?” the psalmist put to music the heart cry of Israel.  When he finally came, Jesus’ entry, in the humble form of a peasant babe, was surprising to say the least!

As Jesus prepared to leave the earth, he alluded to another long wait. (Matthew 25:1-13) He will return, he said, but we will not know the day or the hour.   He launched another season of Advent, one in which we are still expectantly waiting.

A Jewish wedding feast was worth the wait, an all out celebration!  The custom dictated that a groom and his friends would leave his home in a processional to the home of the bride where the marriage ceremony would take place, often at night.  The entire party would travel back to the home of the groom where a celebratory feast ensued.  Jesus told the story of ten girls waiting for a wedding party to arrive.  Because it was very late at night, they fell asleep while waiting and their lamps ran out of oil.    The five who had planned ahead and had extra oil, relit their lamps, went to meet the bridegroom and went into the feast with the entourage.  The five who did not plan ahead, had to rush to town to buy more oil and missed out on the party!

The crux of the story is the plea these less prepared five made to the bridegroom, “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!”  But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”  These words were reminiscent of words in another famous sermon of Jesus. 

The disciples would surely remember…“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’  (Matthew 7:21-23)

Some of the last words Jesus gave to his beloved disciples were to “Keep watch!”  Our admonition is the same.  Observe Advent.  Wait with expectation!  Anticipate the arrival.  Be ready, not by adding good deeds to your repertoire, but by just being present, in relationship with the groom.  Knowing Jesus is the key. 

As beautiful as it is to remember his infant entrance into the world this time of year, he longs for you to receive him as Savior and Lord, the greatest gift of grace you will ever receive!  To know and be known is the greatest desire of every human being.  Jesus knows you completely and longs to be known by you.  He left his own Spirit for you, the deepest part of Him.  He’s revealed himself in numerous love letters, right at your fingertips.  May you dive into the greatest love story of your life this holiday season and for the rest of your days!  Spend time with Him.  Talk to him.  Listen.  He’s prepared a place for you at His table.  Be ready.  The celebration will be well worth the wait!

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