First Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 2: 1-5 + Romans 13:11-14 + Matthew 24: 37-44
We Christians are familiar with the discipline and challenges of the Lenten season. But the readings from the first Sunday of Advent reminded me that this holy season is not for the faint of heart. Matthew’s Gospel, known as “The Little Apocalypse” urges us to “stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Advent is a time of preparation, a theme which is made abundantly clear in the first and second readings as well.
The Gospel says “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” My immediate reaction to this message is one of fear. I take a quick personal inventory. I am not sure how I am to pray with the Word—this Word. I think of my colleagues and friends who have experienced unexpected loss or the sudden passing of loved ones and I think, “Do we really need this reminder?”
I realized that a talk given by Stanford football coach David Shaw of all people could serve as an answer to my questions.
Shaw said “It drives me crazy when I hear football coaches say, ‘it’s my job to win games.’ I disagree. Our jobs are to teach young people how to do things that make them successful. On the football field, in the classroom and after graduation.”
A small part of me—the inner cynic that I battle with from time to time—heard his words and thought “yeah, right.” But I continued to listen to his philosophy of coaching, the evidence he imparted as a teacher and the stance of his character and I got it. Do the right things and you will win—literally and metaphorically.
Shaw’s message should have come as no surprise. His hero, Coach Bill Walsh’s philosophy of leadership is captured in a book entitled “The Score Takes Care of Itself.” These men are guided by the same principle. Live your life in such a way that success is the by-product of your efforts, winning is the fruit of your work, and eternal life is eternal reward. In laymen’s terms, their credos are also the challenge of Sunday’s readings. Romans 13: 11-14 tells us
“Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day”
Advent reminds us of how we are to live our lives. Some of us need jarring reminders. Others just need the assurance as given in 2 Isaiah “let us walk in the light of the Lord!” To do means we will not fear the day nor the hour, it means that we will know the score, it assures us that victory is ours for those who love Christ Jesus.
Let us prepare the way for His coming. Blessings this Advent.
Score takes care of itself