“Therefore you also must be ready . . .” Matthew 24:44a
When you read this full text, it seems more like the rapture theology series, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, than an Advent message preparing for Christmas. Matthew is urgently telling the reader to live with expectant anticipation for the moment when all that God promised in the life and message of Jesus will be fulfilled, and not just fulfilled, but come pouring in like the great flood in the story of Noah. Sounds good to me. I think this world could use a good wash. But I don’t buy the literal image in verses 40-41 where there seems to be some selection process for who is chosen and who is left. So what hope can we find in this text? I think it is in the core of the message — God has promised that the day is coming when what was promised is fulfilled.
I can remember my hopes and dreams to be a father. There was a time it seemed to be taking sooooo loooong! First the years to find the right person. Check. Then the years to find the right timing. Check. Then the months of hoping for the pregnancy, and once confirmed, more months of waiting, and those last days wondering if that baby will ever decide to join us! And as I write this, that baby’s son just turned five this very day. When you are waiting, time moves slowly. When you look back you wonder “where did the time go?”
There are some who have become quite skeptical about the promises of God in texts like Matthew 24. And, I would agree it is a little hard to keep a sense of excited “watchfulness” for nearly 2,000 years. But, when I think of all the promises of life that God has delivered — ones to which I have been blessed to be a recipient or witness — I still get pretty excited about what is on the way!
I still believe there is a will and Spirit arriving every day that wants the hope, love, joy and peace the Advent season anticipates. For me, some of the best part of this season is all the “preparation” we do for it. What a great way to live — preparing every day for the in-breaking of unexpected goodness beyond measure. I think doing so just might bring hope.
Advent reminds us that continuing to prepare for the fulfillment of God’s promise is part of the work we are called to do that brings us one day closer to realizing it. Whether that day finally comes in my life, my sons’ life, my grandson’s life or his grandson’s, the day is coming. I want to be part of helping the world get ready for it!
Prayer: Lord, grant me the wisdom to remain watchful. Amen.