Word of the Month

Being prepared

December 2013

During the Advent season we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, when we commemorate the first coming of Jesus Christ in lowliness: as a newly born baby, Jesus was laid into a manger—there wasn’t even a bed available for Him. Today houses and rooms are festively decorated, Christmas gifts are purchased, and Christmas songs are practised. People look forward to their gatherings on Christmas Eve and to the divine service on Christmas Day.

In the process, however, let us never lose sight of the second coming of the Lord—His return. The Lord told us that He will come at an hour we do not expect. He clearly stated that the moment of His return is impossible for any human being to predict. No one can say when the Lord will return.

In Holy Scripture we find examples of various individuals who were surprised because things did not occur in the manner they had expected. For example, the wicked servant thought in his heart that his master was delaying his coming (cf. Matthew 24). He became negligent and began to conduct himself in a reprehensible manner. The return of his master found him completely unprepared. Those who no longer believe in the imminent return of Christ run the risk of failing to prepare themselves sufficiently for this event. Preparing ourselves for the return of the Lord means that we must let our old nature die off and give the divine life within us the opportunity to develop. It is therefore a question of being prepared to rethink our behaviour and overcome those characteristics that do not please God. Our preparation began with our Holy Sealing, when the love of God was poured out into our hearts. Through the Apostles, the Holy Spirit continues this development by causing this love within us to grow greater and greater. A child of God who loves the Lord in all purity and uprightness of heart will long for His return and will prepare for this moment without ceasing. And the Lord’s return will not find such a soul unprepared.  

Part of this preparation for the return of Christ is to allow the fruits of the Spirit to be revealed in us, just as Apostle Paul describes them in the letter to the Galatians (Galatians 5: 22-23). The Lord wants us to be loving, gentle, and patient people, and He wants us to put our love, gentleness, and patience into His service and into the service of His church.

Preparing our souls for the return of Christ takes time and requires us to make decisions. At times we must do without certain things—not because they are necessarily evil, but because we would not be able to dedicate sufficient time to the salvation of our souls if we were to engage in them. We pray without ceasing that the Lord may come again.

On the day of the Lord, the dead will resurrect and we will be transformed and caught up to Him. This was already attested by Apostle Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 15).

In all our blessed preparations for the upcoming celebration of Christmas, let us not lose sight of the most important thing, namely our preparation for the return of Christ. Let us take time for the salvation of our souls. Let us reveal the fruits of the Spirit, and let us overcome the things that do not please God. Then the Lord can come and surprise us—and we will be ready!

(From a divine service from the Chief Apostle)