Christmas Eve: Final Preparations
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
—Matthew 25: 1-13 (Read Matthew 25)
This time last year, my husband and I were beginning to announce that we were expecting our first child. From the tears of joy from my mom and sister, to the audible gasp of the church congregation, it was so exciting to share the good news with family and friends.
But then, after everyone knew, the reality set in.
We actually had to prepare for the arrival of our child.
We quickly learned that you don’t just passively wait around for a baby to come. You have to actively prepare. This meant researching baby products, getting rid of our things to make room for baby things, taking classes, and so much more.
Toward the end of pregnancy, I—like many women—experienced a phenomenon called “nesting.” Suddenly I had an uncontrollable need to clean, organize, and check things off of my to-do list. As the due date approached, I became more and more determined to prepare as much as I could.
But the difficult thing about waiting for a baby is that the timing of their grand entrance into the world is unpredictable.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story about waiting for the kingdom of God. In this story, Jesus uses the analogy of waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. The ten virgins should have all been prepared with oil in their lamps, but five were not prepared. Their passive waiting and lack of preparation was not good enough.
As Sarah Jobe puts it in her book, Creating with God, “The story is a warning to all of Jesus’ followers. We must be prepared for Jesus to come… There is work to be done! We must create hospitable conditions for Jesus to enter our lives and our world… Pregnancy teaches us exactly the sort of active waiting Jesus asks of us.”
Jesus says, “Keep watch, for you do not know the day or the hour.”
During this season of Advent, we are reminded that we are to prepare for Jesus to come, and the day and the hour of his coming is not known to us.
Just like we wanted our home and lives to be hospitable to the arrival of a little child at any time, we want our lives to be ready for Jesus.
At the end of my pregnancy, I encountered some health issues. Three weeks before the baby’s due date, I had a doctor’s appointment where I was told that I was going to be induced that day.
I was shocked and afraid. I was excited to finally meet our daughter, relieved that my uncomfortable third trimester was ending. But I felt totally unprepared—I thought I had a few more weeks to get ready!
We ran home, packed our bags, and installed the car seat. Because ready or not, she was coming.
My labor was long and hard, and it ended with a c-section. It was scary, but when I heard her first cry and held her for the first time, it was all worth it.
Ready or not, she came, and she was beautiful.
But all of this has taught me something.
When Jesus comes, I don’t want to be caught by surprise. I don’t want to be running around doing last-minute things like on the day my daughter was born. I want to be confident that I am ready, that I am helping to “create hospitable conditions for Jesus to enter our lives and our world.”
During this Advent season, let us prepare for the unexpected.
Because ready or not, Christ will come.
—Lauren Alexander, CCO Campus Ministry Staff at The Ohio State University