If you received word Jesus was coming to visit your church next Sunday, what do you think would happen?
I have a pretty good mental picture of the scene, having grown up in a church tradition that makes a big deal of the occasional visit by the bishop. My idea is only enhanced by the years we spent in the military and the copious, elaborate preparations made for the visit of “The General” or “The IG” or, even once, “The President”. In my experience there is a wild frenzy of activity which ensues from the moment of announcement to the moment of arrival.
Based on that experience, if it were to be announced that Jesus was attending my church next Sunday, I believe the homemade goodies would be called for; all hands would be called upon to ready the premises by planting flowers, dusting and changing light bulbs; special music would be chosen and rehearsals would be arranged; everyone would be reminded of the importance of wearing our name tags; all the silver would be polished and the best we’ve got would be offered to make a great impression. None of this is unheard of, and is even considered proper protocol for a distinguished guest. Goodness, I’ve done it myself.
I can’t really tell you what, but something got me thinking about this after church today. But something got me thinking about it, and that “dog and pony show” frenzy struck me as wrong. We had a few visitors today, but not the sort that would get people into a planning whirl; everything was pretty much normal. And maybe that was just it.
If you ask my husband you’ll find out that I think the frenzy of preparation is, with rare exception, pretty silly. The silliness, as I see it, is stems not from the desire to offer your best to guests; we definitely should be hospitable and warm in our welcome. I think the preparation frenzy – and the associated stress, anxiety and fraying edges – all display our failing in being prepared on a day-in-day-out basis. Myself included.
While certainly there will always be occasions where some above-and-beyond preparations will be necessary, the Biblical admonition to be ready is clear and expressed in multiple ways, such as from Luke 12:
35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
What I’m wondering on is this: If we’re to be ready at all times for Jesus, why are we running around like crazy, or just unready at all, to receive His guests? I know I can do better than ‘good enough’ by doing what I’m called to do with excellence, by making preparation my focus, and by paring down the busyness that so easily accumulates and keeps me from “having time” to be excellent in what ought to be my priority. I’m still thinking this through… What do you think?