Happy Advent Calendars! 25 little doors to open, 25 little windows to look through, 25 little pockets to unpick! The countdown to Christmas is now officially underway.
In our house we used to buy the cheapest calendars going. Four children eager to get their pre-breakfast chocolate fix. Over the years we had the “can’t wait years” when one per day was not enough. And as they grew older we had the “catch-up years” when a week or more went by before they could be bothered to open the daily doors. And now they are all grown up Mum buys our two girls a Yankee Candle Advent Calendar (and they buy her one back). It is a fragrant and lovely “sharing” (new) tradition:
Behind each of the little doors is hidden one of twenty and tea lights and four festive votive sample candles, in fragrances including Winter Glow, Bundled Up, Candy Cane Lane, Snowflake Cookie, Icicles and Spiced Orange.
“Jesus said to the people, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.’
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell-and great was its fall!’ “ Matthew 7:21, 24-27
I wonder if we get too caught up with the “We should all be thinking of the baby Jesus” track. I wonder if we become little Christian Scrooges: “Bah Humbug! It’s a special day because of Jesus! All this shopping and chocolate and stuff! Just what would Jesus do if he was here …” Probably overturn all the special offers is what!
“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Jesus was speaking to a bunch of peeps whose traditions were documented in law. Whose traditions had removed unconditional love – had removed humanity – in favour of knowing what God wants. Traditions which no longer needed God – but did need fear. And time after time Jesus time banged the same drum: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them … ”
His imagery (leaving aside earthquakes) was that their normal living should be rooted in confidence – in unconditional love – in humanity – a confident humanity – a confident love without condition – a confidence that does not need documented fear for every circumstance in which they will fail if they do not do this or that in a certain way. Jesus was speaking to their traditions in their time and in their place.
And this morning I wonder …
If we “get it” – all this “Jesus stuff” – where is our confidence? Where is our confident humanity – our confident love without condition – our confidence in who we are and what we are? Why is it that we still need to document who is in and who is out – who God will love and who God will trash – who we should love and who we should trash?Because if we “get it” … then these verses are not aimed at us.
So when I see and hear teaching and preaching that says these verses are as relevant to us today as they were “back then” … Is it because we don’t get it – or is that we prefer not to get it.
Because “getting it” means “hearing these words and acting on them”. And that would mean having to really change – having to really place humanity centre stage – really making love without condition the driving force – a real and life changing driving force.
“But the bible says, Paul … “
Except the bible has loads of anomalies in factual chronology. Because written documents are never enough. Because they are always written in a particular time and place by those who “know” (just like this post).
And wasn’t THAT what Jesus was trying to get across time after time … documented fear is NEVER a substitute for God.
But do we really prefer to really “get that” …?