Read: Luke 12:32-40
The vigil we are asked to keep is no somber thing. Jesus says that he wants us to keep watch like those who are waiting for a groom and bride to return home after the wedding banquet is over. That one detail, thrown into the larger story, changes the tone of our waiting. We wait with joy and anticipation.
The return of the bride and groom does not end the festivity, it transfers it from one location to another. We can easily imagine that the servants would have the house clean and decorated–all prepared for the couple’s entrance. And when they arrived, the house would be filled with the sights and sounds of celebration.
Jesus is using this entire section of Luke to contrast true godliness with the feigned piety of the Pharisees. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:16) he spoke of how they walked around with expressions that misrepresented and caricatured religion. Here, he says that the countenance of authentic faith is festivity.
John Wesley said, “Sour godliness is the devil’s religion.” After some failed experiences of his own that made him overly serious, he found the connection between holiness and happiness. He spent the rest of his life preaching holiness as a life of righteousness, peace and joy. In doing so, he was stepping into the stream of God’s revelation, that joy is a fruit of Spirit-filled living.
There are times when, like the servants, we wait for God to come. It’s good to know that the spirit of our waiting is that of anticipation. As my friend and mentor, David McKenna has said, we live with the note of joy!