“Mommy’s coming!!” I shouted to the children, “Quick, let’s clean up this mess before she gets home!”
My wife had been away at a conference for five days, and while she had cooked, cleaned and put away the laundry before she left, as well as made a checklist of things for us to do while she was away....What’s the fun in that?! When the cat’s away, the mice will play, right?!
Instead of wholesome pot roast with potatoes and carrots, we ate Dairy Queen chicken strips, French fries and Dilly Bars! Instead of putting our dirty clothes in hampers, they were left wherever I could wrangle them off their wiggly little bodies. And instead of cleaning up our play areas at the end of each day, we left the toys out, with the five-day accumulation resulting in what looked like the aftermath of a hurricane!
So, needless to say, when I received my wife’s innocent and excited text, “Yeah!! I’m on my way!” terror gripped my heart. Looking around at the destruction and mayhem that they had created…well…ok…that we created, I immediately recognized our failings, quickly ran through the list of rationalizations for our behavior and then finally owned it, repented and starting making preparations for mommy’s loving return.
With a quick mind and swift feet, I made a game of cleaning up, utilizing both songs, dance and even some monetary positive reinforcements to move our house from clutter to clean, from obstructed path ways to open hall ways and from dirty clothes to clean kiddos. It was a busy, hard and yet a fun and rewarding time for us all. Busy because of the urgency, hard because of the accumulation of clutter, fun because of the games and songs and rewarding because of the smiles, joy and love that beamed and gushed so brightly from Mommy upon her return. It’s amazing what a little clearing away of the clutter in our lives can do for our hearts, souls and the relationships that nurture us.
You see, that’s what this Advent season is really all about, the clearing away of the clutter of our hearts, souls and minds to make room for the coming home of God in Christ in our lives afresh and anew on Christmas morning…or better yet, every morning.
In our passage for this Sunday, St. Matthew describes John the Baptist’s role as the “one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Or, in other words…
“Father’s coming!! Quick, clean up the mess of your lives and make clear the cluttered paths to your hearts!” For He is coming, and He so deeply desires to restore and reside within you that, in His mercy, He is willing to give His only and eternal Son to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, so to reconcile us to Him that we might live, abundantly and forever.