With all the glossy bows and glittery lights and gaudy gifts, it’s strange that in this season of stimulation we are so often our most drowsy. Perhaps are lethargy comes, not just from the exhaustion of consumerism, but by the lullaby of returning annually to Bethlehem.

33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It 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. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

In Mark’s text, there is no mention of God coming to us in diapers, no swaddling clothes or blue balloons tied to the animal stall. That’s because Advent isn’t about Jesus’ first coming for the 2014th time but Jesus’ Second Coming. This word is apocalyptic, a warning to disciples napping in the garden, to the bridesmaids out of lamp oil, to those of us who believe the hourglass won’t run out of sand.

This Christmas, don’t waste your time or God’s going back to the manger. Know, instead, that the master has put the slaves in charge, that our discipleship is measured by our vigilance, that faith only what happens while we’re awake. So end the estrangement, mend the fence, be in relationship instead of being right because when the Lord shows up again, the clock strikes midnight.

Prayer: O’ God, the tyranny of time is the seduction that there’s always more of it. So shake us and stir us out of our spiritual stupors to be your people. Awake and alert to your return, may we be waiting by the door for your coming.