By the time any of you are reading this reflection, I shall have been on my way to the Seminary to teach the last Church Law class for this year, and a few hours later, I will be hearing their oral exams. (And the “professor” who will interrogate them is far harsher and more demanding than the “pastor” who sits with our teens at Confirmation classes or teaches at a Rector’s Forum.) If their dream of being ordained an Episcopal priest is to be fulfilled, they had better have studied and be prepared.
And their brief “travail” (O please.. such drama. It’s only an exam) is a metaphor for the meaning of Advent. This is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ not merely in History (past) but weekly in Sacrament (present) and in glory (future). Notice I didn’t even mention the word “Christmas.” We’re supposed to be always living lives of preparation. You want meaning in your life? You need to be spiritually fed? You long for hope in a seemingly hopeless world? That is who Jesus was, is and is to come! That’s why we sing: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Life does have meaning: this is our exam time! Be prepared for the Divine One who came for us and now longs to bring us home: if we have prepared!