Watching for the return of the master, Jesus, the Son of Man, is not the same as waiting. Wheat and barley farmers watch the weather and their crops with the eyes of an eagle. Are they doing nothing while they watch for the best time to harvest? Certainly not. A sense of expectancy builds in the farming community; plans are put on hold as the season moves forward to the anticipated harvest day, which remains undetermined and subject to the local conditions. Storms are eyed warily, prayers are offered, the machinery is readied and checked, the talk down the main street inevitably turns to the DAY and how this will work in with the so and so’s family wedding. Watching, whether for the farmer or the disciple of Jesus, is doing something; it’s anticipating and getting prepared. Watching (for the return of Jesus), shapes what we do from day to day.
Our attention at this time of year naturally shifts to one of anticipation: the Lord is coming again – and also to his first coming, the Incarnation, which has in these last days, become one overtaken with associations of commercialism and the necessity of spending big in order for it to be meaningful. Our readings for the next four Sundays of Advent will focus on his coming again (both first and second) and getting ready, a message which is quite out of step with our current culture.