[this was originally written for The Beatitudes Society]
GOSPEL MATTHEW 24:36-44
36″But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
I had a seminary friend who wore a t-shirt that said, “Jesus is coming” on the front of it, and “Look busy!” on the back. I have to admit that too often sums up my feelings around this time of year.
Advent begins, and we open up our Scriptures to these ancient texts, telling us that no one knows the day or the hour, but we can’t sleep. We must stay awake! After all, there will be a time when the lion and the lamb lie down together, when we beat our swords into plowshares, and we will not learn war any more. But, I’ve been preaching these texts for a dozen years, and it’s been over two thousand years since these promises were made, and the violence continues. We have not made our swords into anything but more massive and fatal weapons. I’m not feeling so alert at this point.
Yet, God rarely comes in the way that we predict. Who anticipated that a teenaged single mom would bear God? Who expected that those kicks in her belly would incite her to dream of a day when the lowly would be lifted up and the hungry would be filled?
Perhaps, now, a couple thousand years later, we will never know the reign of God that is in and among us, until we wake up and become attune to those promises of peace and justice, until we can become alert to those things that are going on around us that remind us of God’s presence, until we walk away from the cynicism and despair that can sedate us and become busy, working for a world where the downtrodden will be buoyed and the ravaged will be made whole.
So, I ask you, where is God kicking about in and among you? Where have you seen these great promises taking place in your life and work?