Sometimes, old sayings get it really wrong. For example, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” In fact, the devil likes us to be busy and distracted. When we are busy with work and responsibilities and when we are distracted by problems and enjoyments, we never stop to take a deeper look at our lives. Busy and distracted people hurry from one thing to the next. They cannot hear the voice of God calling them in their lives. They just can’t seem to be ready to meet the Lord when he comes in his Word and Sacraments and in the circumstances of ordinary life.
When we hear the Advent call “to be awake, to watch, to be ready,” it is not a threat or a dire message. It is an urgent appeal to put aside the things—whatever they are—that impede us from receiving Christ with joy. The Advent call is really a summons to break through the distracted and fragmented lives that we so often live. “Go deeper,” the prophets tell us, “and clear the clutter of your lives to make a way for the Lord. Learn to focus on what really matters—the coming of the Lord.”
But how do we do it? Here’s a thought and an Advent challenge. Take five minutes—not an hour and not even a half hour—and clear a space. No TV, no cell phone, no reading, no conversation, no shopping list, no rehearsing the things to be done. Sit. Wait. Be alert. In that short time of stillness, turn your attention to him whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. Only five minutes but every day. Something will happen across this holy season. You will be amazed.