It’s not in the Sunday readings this year, nor does it appear in our Isaiah-saturated daily Lectionary, but this passage from Peter’s first letter fits well with the early days of Advent:
The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Sobriety and prayer are good, but love is better. We live not just in a liturgical cycle, but a real world in which seriousness is needed as we deal with the obstacles, problems, and yes, crises. Above economic concerns, or other concerns, the apostle calls us to love. Not a serious and sober love, but an intense love.
Can we bring such an intensity to the living of Advent? Love seems built into the season for family and friends. Some people find it a perfect time for the exercise of charity.
A wise pastor once counselled taking the next step. If one finds oneself occasionally going to church, take another step: go every week. If one finds one goes every Sunday, take another step: pick up the book and sing. If one is a singer, take another step: get involved in liturgy or justice or education or some parish ministry. There is always another deeper step to take to Christ. That would be my thinking on the “intensity” called for by Peter. Wherever we find ourselves, be watchful for the next step to take. That will take us a step beyond seriousness, a leap beyond sobriety. It may be a smalls tep, but it will contribute to the intensity of the Christian life.