On Sunday, December 1st we begin the Advent season for the liturgical Christian churches. Interestingly enough, we begin at the end — thinking about THE END – the end of the world. The early Christians believed Jesus was coming “soon and very soon.” The early generation of Christians thought the end would come soon. Jerusalem fell in 70 CE but Jesus didn’t come.
Paul admonishes us in Romans today:
“Now is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;the night is advanced, the day is at hand.Let us then throw off the works of darknessand put on the armor of light.”
And Jesus also admonishes us in today’s gospel (Mt. 24:37-44).
” Stay awake !
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. . . . .
You must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay lays it out for us: No one knows the timing of the Second Coming, not the angels or even Jesus himself, but only God; it will come upon humankind with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky. Thus, speculation regarding the time of the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, “is nothing short of blasphemy, for the man who so speculates is seeking to wrest from God that which belong to God alone.
He tells us these verses are a warning that we must never become so immersed in time that we forget about eternity or worldly affairs, however necessary, as to completely distract us from God. If our life is in his hands, whenever his call comes, at morning, noon or night, it will find us ready.
And these verses tell us that the coming of Christ will be a time of judgment, when he will gather to himself those who are his own. ~ Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew ~ Volume 2, pp. 315-6.
Now here’s my reflection:
Jesus wants us to be prepared ~ to be watchful ~ alert ~ aware ~ awake
He wants us to know what’s happening
. . . but so many of us are asleep, Lord
We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.
We often dull our senses ~ stay in our own little worlds,
choosing not to care. We become complacent.
Many of us don’t want to be bothered thinking about or praying about the real issues swirling around us.
And thus, we go like lemmings over a cliff.
So tribulations loom: Fear.
Threats . . . of losing our job ~ having a lump in our breast
losing health insurance because we lost our job
corruption on Wall Street and government
Fears about the upcoming election or the possible impeachment ot the president
uncertainties of all kinds.
Stand erect! Face your fears with courage.
Do not fear the terror of the night (Psalm 91.)
This is what Advent faith is all about . . .
Being vigilant. Being prepared for anything life throws at us.
Standing proudly humble or humbly proud no matter what.
That’s the kind of faith in life — in You, my God that I seek.