“Prepare the way of the Lord” (Matt 3:2).
“Be prepared for an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44).
An ordinary man lives a long life despite risks and neglect. A young wife and mother goes in for a routine checkup and is told she has pancreatic cancer and just months to live. One person dies peacefully in her sleep, another is killed instantly in a car crash that was not his fault.
“Blessed are you…” (Luke 1:41).
“The plan of the Lord stands forever” (Ps 33:20).
During a recent meeting at our church in which the topic was "feeling stuck," someone offered this advice from the Buddha: “Jump, and a bridge will appear.” It sounds a bit like “one hand clapping” to more pragmatic ears, but everyone recognized the truth of it in their own experience. There are times in life when you have done everything you reasonably can to find a way forward, feel blocked and out of ideas. The only thing left is to take a flying leap into the unknown.
“The genealogy of Jesus Christ…” (Matt 1:1).
“What should we do?” (Luke 3:10).
If you met this man in your town, say, haranguing people on a downtown street corner or by the riverfront, or if you saw his mugshot in the local newspaper, you might reasonably shy away and tune him out. He is probably just another homeless vet off his meds, or a panhandler wandering among the hurried Christmas shoppers, competing for donations with the kettles and bell ringers who appear this time of year.
“Be vigilant…” (Luke 21:35).
Today’s newspaper reports official efforts in Russia to stem mass hysteria over rumors that the world will end on December 21. Besides the usual stockpiling and collective behaviors that threaten social cohesion, the rumors have spread like wildfire by electronic media, producing widespread anxiety. Unusual for Russia, priests have been called upon to calm people’s fears. Religion is back. Televangelists are on a roll. The Mayan calendar predictions reverberate worldwide.