“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake … or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.” – Mark 13:35
My daughter is two-and-a-half and still not talking much. To ease her frustration we’ve taught her signs for words like “milk” and “clean up,” and she’s created her own signs for the things she really wants, like “music” and “animal crackers.”
Nonverbal communication is more demanding than speech. I can’t passively listen to her while focusing on something else. And she knows it.
When she has something to say and my head is turned away from her in conversation with someone else or (too often) in communion with my iPhone, she places her hand on my cheek and steers my face toward hers until she knows she has my undivided attention.
God’s Beloved Community, too, requires our focus. We’ve been given work to do in this interim time—the work of justice and peace—and it won’t accept less than our all.
Advent is a season for having our gaze gently but firmly redirected. A time to abandon all the shiny distractions that have turned our heads. A call to give our undivided attention to the one who is arriving any minute now, the one who has something vitally important to communicate to us, the one who will not be ignored.
Speak Lord, your servant is watching.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.