One of my favorite movie quotes comes from the 1967 prison drama Cool Hand Luke. Unlike the other prisoners In the film, "Cool Hand" Luke is a free-spirit who refuses to submit to the judicial system of the 1950's south. After having escaped a second time from prison and having been subsequently captured, the prison Captain presents the defeated Luke to the other inmates with the following pronouncement:
"You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain't gonna need no third set, 'cause you gonna get your mind right - and I mean right."
This line resonates with me because there is so much that I need to get my mind right about. My life has been full of these types of "get my mind right" situations: in preparation to marry my wife Catherine, in the months leading up to the birth of my kids, when considering God's call to the mission field. In each of these examples, and in so many others, what I was thinking and how I was thinking had a direct relationship to the man I was becoming. And so I had to get my mind right.
What is true about the events in my life and yours is true of the oft-maligned and charade-filled holiday we call Christmas. Somehow a baby born to die has been replaced with Santa, sugar cookies, and an elf on the shelf. We have to get our minds right, because how we think about this Christmas season impacts the kind of men and women we are, and will be.
And that's where the season of Advent comes in - a concerted effort to mentally and physically slow down and truly think and reflect on the not-so-silent baby in the manger. Who is this little baby? Why was he born? And why did he have to die? Coincidently, all of the answers to these questions are found in the four Advent themes - hope, peace, joy, love. In that swaddled baby boy we see the hope of God's Messiah materialized, the promised peace with God realized, the joy of Christ's arrival actualized, and the demonstrated love of God externalized.
As you walk through the Advent season over the next four weeks, and as you consider the reality of God coming near, remember that these themes prepare us for Christ's coming, both as a baby over 2000 years ago AND as the future triumphant King - where hope, peace, joy, and love will be consummated eternally.
Because only then will we, as the Captain aptly stated, truly get our minds right - and I mean right.