Summary: If God is about to create a new world, it needs to be one that realizes His promises of fulfillment, reconciliation, and peace. In the babe of Bethlehem those promises, though not yet complete, have come to be.
When I was a boy, my brother and I slept in an upstairs bedroom, and always, on Christmas morning, the door at the bottom of the steps would be shut tight. Normally it was kept open, but on Christmas morning, not so. Things were happening on the other side of that door, things we were not to see until it was the right time. We wanted desperately to go to that living room and dive into whatever was under that Christmas tree. But no, we had to wait until our parents opened that door and let us out.
I have to say that we waited badly. Our Advent theme here is “Waiting in the Active Voice.” Well, my brother and I waited in very active voices! We whined, we scuffled, we did everything we could to make something happen. We would shout through the door, “Is it time? Are you ready yet?” But my father would say, “We’re just about to let you out. Just wait. We want everything to be just right.” Somehow it was important to him that the gifts be displayed in an artful way under that tree; a lot of difference that made, given that his boys intended to tear into it with reckless abandon. But he kept us waiting with the promise, “I’m about finished. I’m about to open the door. Just wait. I’m about to …”
If, as they say, the oldest lie in the world is the one that goes, “The check is in the mail,” then the second oldest lie is any sentence that includes the phrase, “I was just about to …” “I was just about to give you a call.” That’s what you say to the credit card guy when he nudges you about that late payment. No, I was not just about to give him a call. In fact I forgot to consult my Caller ID so that I could avoid him altogether.
“I was just about to send those in.” That’s what I said to the seminary registrar’s office when they called. I did not want to tell her I had put off grading exams. It was more or less true that I was about to send in the grades. More or less, maybe less, since I had only just finished with the last exam. But I was about to!
“I was about to clean my room.” I heard that one a few times during my parenting days. “I was about to repair that broken moulding.” My wife has heard that daily for the last week or so, and it still isn’t done. Close, but not quite; I’m about to get to that. About to.
Our problem is that we know what needs to be done, but we don’t get to it until it’s late, and then we feel as though we have to play fast and loose with the truth to cover ourselves. And, of course, when we play the “about to” card, we damage our credibility. Others no longer believe us if we try that too many times. About to? Well, just when, exactly? When will you do what you have said you are about to do? Everything ultimately focuses on whether we can have confidence in the one who claims to be just about to.
We are in an “about to” world. I don’t know that I can remember a time in which there was so much anticipation concerning what is about to happen. We worry that our economy is about to collapse. Maybe some of us have been afraid that we are about to be put out on the street, about to lose our jobs, about to spend a very cold winter without adequate heat. It’s not pleasant, living in an “about to” season like this one.
Is Congress about to help the auto industry? The pundits say that people will not buy cars from a company they feel they cannot trust. Is the store where I shop about to shutter its doors? If I cannot trust them to be here next week, what if I need a refund? Is the governor of Illinois about to resign? He says it’s all just talk and there were no criminal actions, but how can we trust anybody who talks the way he talks? Barack Obama is about to become president of the United States, and it’s as though people are expecting miracles on January 21st. In our minds we know that cannot happen; but in our hearts we just hope that it is about to, and so he takes office with the people’s hopes exceptionally high and the burdens of the task exceptionally heavy. It’s an “about to” time; and everything ultimately comes down to whether we can have confidence in those who are about to.