“The Advent of our God, Shall be our theme for prayer; Come, let us meet him on the road, And place for him prepare.” (“The Advent of Our God, LW #12, vs.1)
We sang this Advent hymn at our Lessons and Carols service, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since, especially the part about meeting Jesus on the road. What does that mean? Isn’t Advent about waiting for Him?
Waiting reminds me of a party I had, and how the guests were late – really late. I wasn’t waiting very patiently that night, or very compassionately as the food went from cooked to overcooked.
What if I invited my neighbors over for dinner, then walked down the road to their house early in anticipation of their coming, knocked on their door and told them how eager I was to welcome them into my home?
They might think it unusual. But they would also know that they meant a lot to me.
Roads make me think of two of my favorite Bible stories.
In the parable of the lost (or prodigal) son (Luke 15:11-32), the father spotted his son while he was still a distance away, walking back home, disgraced and truly sorry. I don’t know if the son was walking on a road, or just through the grass, but I like to imagine that he was. How long and hard that road must have seemed, as he wondered what kind of reception he would get! But what did his father do? He ran out with compassion to meet him.
In the other parable, the Good Samaritan stopped along the road to help someone in need, after others had passed by on the other side. Did you ever wonder where the Samaritan was going? My guess is that he was on his way to something really important and he didn’t have a moment to spare, so that the choice to stop and help the injured man lying there was a really hard one. (Isn’t that how it always is?) The Samaritan stopped, bandaged the man, helped him to an inn and cared for him there for a day. The next day he paid the innkeeper to care for the injured man until he was well, and promised to come back to pay any additional expenses. Highly unusual, wouldn’t you say? To do that much for someone he didn’t even know?
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus said. (Luke 10:37) Note the word “Go”!
Forgiving someone, as we ourselves have been forgiven, is like going out and meeting Jesus on the road. So is helping someone in need (especially when you don’t have the time). These are active ways of waiting for our Lord and Savior, which we can do in Advent and any other time of the year.
The Lord used a handful of Christians, showing some unusual kindness to me at different times in my teen and young adult years, to lead me to His Church. They met me on the road. They were like a pattern of Someone greater, who I would recognize in amazement later because of what He had done for me through them.
God has shown us all the most unusual and undeserved kindness! He sent His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the light of our lives, to give up everything – His own precious life – so that we could be forgiven of all our sins and be with Him for all eternity!
The larger community will be gathering on the main street in town again this Christmas Eve to sing around the tree. What will they think when we meet them there with hot chocolate and cider? They’re probably going to think it’s a bit different from the usual, but won’t they also know that we care?