"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise man who built his house on rock" (Matt 21:24).
Teachers know that the deepest level of learning occurs when students first hear the lesson, then see the listen, and finally do the lesson in some exercise. Students retain something when they actually do it Practice makes perfect.
Have you ever been in an argument with someone only to realize that all your talking points are cliches or hearsay? If you have no real experience or solid evidence for your positions, why should anyone be convinced by them?
Jesus made action, not ideas, the real test of a good foundation. What good is an elaborate theology if it is only in the abstract. How quicky even our faith can collapse if we have never experienced its validity in a crisis.
Jesus cautions his disciples that calling out, 'Lord, Lord" will not be enough when judgment day comes. Only those who hear, then do his teachings will stand firm in a time of trial.
Isaiah, other prophets and the psalmist often use the image of a strong house or city to describe fidelity to the covenant. Where God is the rock on which the house is built, no crisis will bring it down. City built on a mountain with high walls and strong gates will withstand any attack.
Advent gives us pause to examine the foundations of our faith. If we believe God came among us and shared our entire human experience, then this will encourage us not to avoid our human interactions or challenges. To live in our bodies, even in their frailty and weakness, is an act of worship to the God who took human form in Jesus. To accept the common burden of human uncertainty, frustration and suffering is to meet God every day. To build community and encourage others to be strong is to lay down a foundation of justice and love everyone can live in securely.
This is how we prepare for Christmas, when God will dwell among us to show us how to live what we believe.