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First Sunday of Advent

“Be vigilant at all times.” Lk. 22:35

Fasten your seat belts!!

This is the “full alert” message of the Rapture Ready Index. You can read it for yourself online.

The Index is provided for those Christians considered exceedingly “vigilant” by their anxiously awaiting the second coming of Christ – an event they believe will begin with the “rapture” of all “righteous believers” from the face of the earth.

“Fasten your seat belts” is the ultimate category on this index, ranking just above “high prophetic activity.”

According to the Index, Americans are presently scoring well above the 160-point mark, the threshold for Christians to “fasten your seat belts,” because of all the apocalyptic “signs” present in the world today: wars, extreme greed, and a host of other immoral behaviors.

Much to my surprise, I’ve discovered that the Rapture Ready Index is just one of hundreds of sites available offering information about exactly when Jesus is coming again to bring with Him the “day of Judgment.”

Interestingly though, the writer of Luke’s Gospel was not among those awaiting such a “rapture.”

This Gospel certainly reminds us to “be vigilant at all times” – but offers a completely different take on why we should be vigilant.

Luke begins by reminding us that “our redemption is at hand.”
That means we are a people of hope.

We are a people who know that human history is fully in God’s hands. We know the real power in the world ultimately is not brute force, but the goodness of Christ, and that our God is not about inciting fear in our hearts, but rather showering us with love and mercy.

And we know all this because of one more thing:


Christmas is the story of a God so madly in love with each of us that He came to participate in every dimension of our lives. God, as one translation puts it, came from heaven and “pitched his tent among us.”

Advent, a word meaning “arrival,” is that special time of year set apart to remind us once again what the Christmas event really means.

Advent is an “on-call” time of year when we become fully alert, not to a potential “rapture” event, but to the need to prepare our hearts to the inner “anticipation” of something profoundly dramatic and life changing, to re-assessing our priorities.

“Be vigilant,” Luke tells us.

Keep our eyes open, keep our ears alert, keep our hearts excitedly beating for reminders that something radically gracious and merciful is about to be repeated by the God who has fallen madly in love with us.

That’s the whole purpose of Advent: to again remind us that we need to take time out in our busy lives to become still, to be silent, to reflect, to make ready our hearts so that another “manger” can be prepared where the God who has fallen in love with us can reside.

Today’s Gospel tells us clearly that Jesus is not to be found in a manger in Bethlehem anymore. Instead, the “manger” is now in the very place Jesus told us to look:

Hidden in plain sight among the powerless and the nobodies and the heartbroken of this world.

But, to do that kind of “seeing,” we need stillness, reflection. We need the time to be quiet before our God to come to the full realization that we aren’t called to a rapturous exit from this world, but a courageous immersion in it.
That’s what today’s Gospel means when it says:

“Be vigilant at all times.”

When we do this, when we become immersed and truly stay awake, when we prepare a manger in our hearts, a true and real “rapture” will take place.
We will be re-born. We will become like our God.

Ted Wolgamot, Psy.D.

Art by Jim Matarelli 

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