Finally we decided to go. After all, they were almost adults. They had always acted responsibly and had never given us any serious concerns.
Before we left, we delivered the standard parental admonitions: Dont allow friends in the house, lock all the doors, feed the petsalong with all the other details parents believe their children will automatically forget without the benefit of a lecture. Each child was also assigned household chores.
Our first night away was filled with anxiety as we imagined all the disasters that could happen while we were gone. The next day, we managed to enjoy ourselves, but as soon as we had settled in our hotel room after dinner, all the worries from the previous night returned.
Well Do It Tomorrow. The next morning, we headed home. We walked into the house to find two very startled teenagers who greeted us with sheepish looks on their faces. Pots and pans covered the stove, dirty dishes filled the sink, disheveled bed sheets littered their rooms, and towels and clothes lay scattered on the bathroom floor. When we demanded an explanation for the condition of the house, they replied, We didnt think youd be home until tomorrow afternoon, so we planned to clean everything up in the morning.
The girls would have been wise to have heeded Jesus words in this Sundays Gospel: Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come (Mark 13:33). Today we joke about our familys judgment day. However, when Jesus warns his disciples to stay watchful and alert, the consequences of not following his advice are much more dire than being grounded for two weeks.
A Different Drummer. Jesus calls his followers to a unique lifestyle that isnt easy this time of year. Society speeds up in anticipation of Christmas, while the Church, through the season of Advent, urges us to wind down. Social expectations include parties, food, and gift giving, while we are challenged to focus on the birth of a baby in a manger. The world pursues fun and excitement, while we try to be faithful to Gods call to us.
These two lifestyles are often in conflict. It is easy to become so immersed in the superficial aspects of preparing for Christmas that we ignore the most important preparation: making our hearts ready for the coming of the Lord.
Each of us is aware of areas in our life that need to be changed before Jesus returns to earth. He warns us to be prepared for his Second Coming, but because we do not know the time, we must live each day as if it were our last. We live this way not out of fear, but out of love and our desire to spend eternity with our Lord.
Discussion Starters for Husbands and Wives: Schedule some time together this week to share an area of your life that you feel needs to be improved. Discuss how you can help each other to achieve your goal and then pray together for Gods blessing.
Discussion Starters for Parents and Children: Talk with your children about the Christian meaning of Advent. Help them to understand that it is fine to enjoy the festivities of Christmas, but it is also a time to look forward to the birth of baby Jesus. Ask the children how they can celebrate Christmas without excessive emphasis on giving and receiving gifts.