Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
I have always considered myself a practical, big picture person. I think the marriage is more important than the wedding (I would have eloped if it were up to me). I think expensive baby photo shoots are overdone, given that your child will quickly grow and change and you will want to capture those looks as well. I think an old car works just fine, so why buy a new one when I don’t have a car payment? So if I prefer to focus on the long road in my own life, why is it that I have given myself permission to treat Advent with such a short term view—like it is all about a baby on a silent night?
Today’s scripture was a choice from Isaiah (predicting better times and reminding us of a gracious, present God), or this uncomfortable Matthew scripture reminding the disciples of the labor needed to do God’s will and spread God’s love. Honestly, Isaiah would fit in easily with my comfortable Advent narrative (The baby has arrived! Now all will be well!). But I need to lean into the Matthew scripture. Jesus is such a radical, loving person. He sees crowds of helpless people and feels compassion. The uncomfortable part in this story is that we are supposed to be the laborers of the harvest. This baby that we celebrate so much in December is now pushing us out of our comfort zones and putting us to work (with strangers, no less!). He was sent to us so that we may fully understand the love of God and then share it with the world.
Yes, Advent is about the arrival of Jesus, but we celebrate this because of who Jesus was to mankind, not because of a single, holy night. We are not just celebrating a new baby—we are celebrating a new way. A new way where everyone is important. Where everyone deserves to experience the love of God through another human being. Where healing and compassion are given or received without payment.
If there is ever a time to look at the bigger picture, I think I need to do it with Advent. The birth is only the beginning!