There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reachin’ down
When the man comes around – Johnny Cash
I grew up a Mississippi Protestant surrounded by hellfire and brimstone preachers who often preached the question, “If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?” Such a phrase was regularly followed by an altar call and we’d all go down to accept Jesus in our hearts even if we had already done so the previous week (just in case!).
So it was with great interest that I read where Pope Francis recently asked a similar question. He said, “It would be nice to think a little bit: one day will be the last. If it was today, am I prepared?” It is a good question to consider and it transported me back in time. One of these days is going to be our last – nothing is more factual than that. Are we ready?
I want to be ready when Jesus comes
I want to be ready when Jesus comes
One day the Lord’s gonna crack the sky
and the dead in Christ shall rise – Dottie Peoples
Like many, I am not inclined to talk a lot about the judgment of God. I prefer faith, hope, and love. I prefer to ponder the great depth of God’s self-emptying love. I’d rather write about, teach about, sing about His amazing grace. I don’t want the Church to scare people into faith; I’d rather we love them there.
Besides, most of the people I know who fear the judgment of God seem to have the least to worry. So too much talk about God’s wrath can feel like piling on.
But make no mistake, God is coming. By death or cracked sky, we will all meet our Maker and be judged. He will come back to put the world to rights. Justice will be served and His kingdom will reign forever.
Are you ready?
Advent begins December 3 this year and it will be here before we know it! Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas, but it can only be fruitful if we spend some time preparing for the preparation. Here are just 4 things we can do now to ensure that on the first Sunday of Advent our parishes and our people are ready.
- Prepare to treat the First Sunday of Advent as the first Sunday of an entire liturgical year in the Church.
Too often we get so caught up in the idea of Advent that we minimize the fact that we are starting a new year with a new cycle of readings, feasts, and solemnities. We need to catechize our people about the cycles of the Lectionary. We can also decide to make some subtle changes in the worship space that will not only last a season, but entire year. By providing a focus on the new liturgical year, we also help people see Advent truly as a new beginning. Advent is a time to prepare to let Jesus be born in us anew. What is past is now past. Let us move forward boldly and enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ.
- Schedule many simple devotional events along with the larger seasonal ones.
Most churches have special events for Advent and many of them are for prayer. By also providing many simple opportunities like praying the rosary or holy hours with Adoration, we can encourage people to join us with Advent as the reason, but then they may continue these devotions into the New Year. Use the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe as reasons to focus some Marian-themed devotions around the dates.
- Preach & catechize about good stewardship in all aspects of life.
Many people spend too much and are more frivolous during this season. Some take on a debt that they will be paying off for many months. Also, it is very easy to overcommit our time or get caught up in a race toward Christmas. Good stewardship living extends into all aspects of our life. We need to be good stewards of all the gifts given to us by God. Catechizing people about good stewardship principles and reminding them of the pitfalls during this time of year can be rather important, especially before the season comes and it is too late for some.
- Suggest to your parishioners to take the Everyday Stewardship Advent Challenge.
Every day of Advent there will be an Everyday Stewardship reflection that springs from the daily readings, followed by the Advent Daily Challenge. The challenges will range in their level of difficulty, but will all attempt to lead us into a greater stewardship way of life. It is a great way to stay focused on what matter the most during Advent: Jesus. Visit our Advent Reflections page to sign up.