Before Thanksgiving, his wife asked him nicely. Several times. Then his stepdaughter mentioned it would be a good idea. Despite many warnings, someone didn’t heed them.

Sometimes we receive only one task to do. We’d like to think we’re on top of it, but we often procrastinate. We put off the preparation we need. We get stubborn. Perhaps we feel overconfident. Perhaps we think we can wing it. But on important occasions, perhaps we ought to take the time to prepare.

When Thanksgiving day came, when the turkey finished sitting in its brine, when it was time to fire up the grill and cook the Thanksgiving meat, the grill wasn’t ready.

A hush fell over the household. The men huddled and hovered over the black behemoth on the deck. Their faces bore a grim reality.

The women in the kitchen whispered and adjusted. They made room in the oven and their cooking schedule. The feast went on, the turkey got carved, and feelings got smoothed over.

Someone spent much of the day on the deck, vacuuming the grill, tinkering, calling for repairs, feeling shame at not listening to advice gently given.

I took it as a friendly reminder to keep myself ready and prepared. Specifically, I applied it to readiness for the day the Lord returns in glory. My prayer journal sat neglected. Recently, I’d cut short my prayer time. I’d put off Bible study until Advent rolled around.

Are you ready?

We won’t know the day when it comes. It will sneak up on us unannounced.

We have been told, we sing at Mass. Many have warned us to prepare our hearts. If we are not ready, we will have no excuse on that glorious day.

We’ve seen His face and heard His voice alive in our hearts.

“Live in my love

with all your heart.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

We Have Been Told, lyrics by David Haas

Be Prepared. Yeah Yeah Yeah.

God gave us one task to do while we’re on this earth and in this body: To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we do this well, we naturally complete the twin commandment to love our neighbor as ourself.

We’d like to think we’re on top of this one job, but how good we are at putting off the preparation we need. Perhaps we’re overconfident. Maybe we think we can wing it. Perhaps we don’t like giving up our selfish approach to taking care of ourselves or our pet projects in order to align ourselves with God’s will and love for others.

If it’s something important, like a Thanksgiving turkey—dare I say our eternal life?—perhaps we ought to listen to those who warn us to prepare.

How’s your defiance rating lately?

Jesus warned us to be vigilant: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from … the anxieties of daily life and that day catch you by surprise like a trap” (Luke 21:34) and “Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33). Unlike Thanksgiving, we “do not know when the lord of the house is coming.” (Mark 13:35)

He gave us parables like the ten virgins, some of whom neglected to be prepared to bring extra oil for their lamps to greet Jesus, the bridegroom. By the time they realized they needed more, it was too late. Jesus closed the door with those who’d prepared for him and said he did not know the others. Ouch.

Or the guest at the King’s feast who refused to don the wedding garment. (Matthew 22:11-12) Some interpret wearing the right garment to mean a refusal to accept a garment provided upon arrival. Other Scripture scholars say the man was making a statement against what the marriage feast represented. His presence was an intolerable offense to an unprecedented invitation.

In this parable, the King gave people from all nations the opportunity to come, or not, to the marriage feast, the call to salvation. The choice is mine. The invitation is no minor matter. Neither is the garment, the fine linen of which is “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8). The Bible uses clothing as an analogy to show how we “put on” behavior that is pleasing to God.

How to respond to THE invitation

The guest’s wilful defiance to not “put on” personal righteousness when he responded to the invitation displayed a frame of mind God cannot reach. Because of that defiance, his consequences provide us sober reflection.

When the time for the Glorious Feast comes, will I be ready? Have I basted my soul in the richness of time spent with God? Have I read his instructions in the Bible or rationalized I don’t need to read it because I know what’s there?

Do I have ready the one thing necessary? The better part? (Luke 10:42) Do I have a defiant attitude about giving my time for test runs to assure I’m fit for the feast with the King of Kings? Am I sitting at Jesus’ feet or busying myself in the kitchen, or somewhere in-between?

Grateful and Ready. For Thanksgiving. For Advent.

Our grateful hearts and a well-prepared meal provide the top two ingredients to our famous American Thanksgiving tradition. I think we do the gratefulness part pretty well. Some ways my friends and family do this:

*Deliver Meals on Wheels to the needy and homebound.

*Write a thank-you note to your pastor for his encouragement throughout the year.

*Call a widow down the street or at church. Drop off dinner or run a needed errand or invite her to join your next Advent retreat or book club read.

*Support our military men and women, moms and dads. Write a heartfelt thank-you letter to a member of our military via amillionthanks.org.

The part God asks us to prepare, the part God waits for—preparing our hearts for the day our King comes—let’s not put off that part. God is here. Now. We find it difficult to keep this in mind, so the Church in her wisdom gives us a season to prepare ourselves.

So the repeatable lesson I learned this year at Thanksgiving: People act as mirrors to see ourselves. I saw myself many times this Thanksgiving in others’ actions and found new places on which I can work within myself.

Be prepared. Heed warnings. Swallow my pride and walk humbly with God. That’s what I’ll try to do this Advent.

I recommend a beautiful Advent read from a worship pastor and author friend if your heart is ready to heed God’s words. She begins a free virtual Advent retreat tonight. If you’d like to join the retreat, you can sign up here: https://www.seedbed.com/godishere.

Happy Advent from my family to yours.