A few years into my call at Trinity I took a day trip to Our Savior Lutheran in Twin Falls to do a presentation on stewardship. It was a great group of people, and I thought the event went well. But a day of presenting meant that by the end I was quite tired. Part way through my drive back to Nampa, somewhere between Twin and Mountain Home, I was jolted awake by the front part of my Camry being crunched by the steal trailer I had just hit. I pulled over onto the interstate shoulder and the man driving the pickup, which was pulling the trailer, pulled in behind me. My car was damaged but drivable and his trailer had not sustained damage. We had a talk about staying awake and alert and went our separate ways. It was a costly repair, but my accident could have been so much worse. The incident convinced me that trying to push through drowsiness on the freeway is never worth it. I vowed that in the future I would stop often to stretch my legs, not depend on caffeine (which is never as effective as fresh air), and as a last resort I would give myself permission to pull over on an interstate shoulder.
42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
Advent always begins towards the end, with a passage from the later chapters of the year’s primary gospel. The theme for the first Sunday in Advent is always the coming of the Son of Man again. Explicit in the scripture passage is the command to Stay Awake! As with the way I changed my freeway driving patterns after my accident, I have occasionally needed to change my habits to stay awake to the life of faith. Different chapters in my life have included new practices, new conversation partners, and new ways of paying attention. And every year the church calendar gives us this entire season to dial in and remember together to stay awake—awake to the Holy Spirit in our lives, awake to scripture and the old, old story we read there, qne awake to our neighbors (those across the street and those across the globe). Faced again with the miracle of the incarnation, we are jolted awake to both the magnificence of God’s love and what that love leads God to do—take on human flesh and be born as a baby.
Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying verse 2:
Zion hears the watchmen singing, and all her heart with joy is springing. She
wakes, she rises from her gloom.
Her dear friend comes down, all glorious, the strong in grace, in truth victorious:
her star is ris’n; her light is come.
Now come, O Blessed One, Lord Jesus, God’s own Son. Sing hosanna!
Oh, hear the call! Come one, come all, and follow to the banquet hall.