A pause in the middle of Advent

Three pots of chili are cooling on the back porch, along with the chicken that will be boned and chopped into bite-size bits to make chicken soup (for those who don’t like chili). Three big pans of cornbread are ready. We have no idea how many people will show up to go caroling tomorrow afternoon, but those who sing will be fed a bowl of something warm. In the midst of all the cooking, a call comes from the hospital’s ICU unit. The mood in our kitchen switches from joy to concern in a heartbeat.
Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing in Advent. Christmas is less than two weeks away, and Mary’s Song beckons, encouraging us to rejoice in God our Savior as we see the many ways God’s Kingdom has broken into our world, turning things right-side-up that were upside down before.
Yet, in the middle of our rejoicing, another voice can be heard: John the Baptist, wondering from his prison cell, “Hey, Jesus! Are you The One? Or should we look for another?” John’s question may come from his own discouraging situation – wasn’t the Messiah, for whom John had been preparing the Way, supposed to overthrow this corrupt pseudo-king, Herod, and set things right? What was taking him so long?
Here we are, in the middle of Advent, and Mary’s rejoicing can swing into John’s concern in a heartbeat.
Then Jesus says, “Look. The Kingdom is right in front of your face. Maybe you are hunting for the wrong thing. This King doesn’t sit in a fancy palace, wearing soft robes. This King is busy healing, caring, sharing good news.”
Rejoice, then.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.