Matthew 24:36-44 (Advent 1A)
St. John, Galveston 11/27/2022
Rev. Alan Taylor
+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, here we are in yet another season of Advent. This is the 30th Advent that Dawn and I have celebrated with you here at St. John’s. Some of you, of course, can recall Advents here from long before we came. Others of you think back on and reflect on Advents celebrated in other places at other times. It seems to me, that of all the seasons of the Church Year, whether Easter, or Pentecost, or Lent, it’s good to reflect in Advent on years gone by, because this season is ultimately about the passage of time, even as it is about waiting for God to fulfill everything that He has promised to fulfill in His Word. In many ways, Advent is a unique season in the Church Year, in part, because it always leaves us waiting and anticipating, but also because it offers us an opportunity to practice certain spiritual disciplines in our lives that we don’t often practice.
In many ways, Advent is a season in search of a fulfillment. As such, it fosters in us the discipline of waiting and of patience. From the Scriptures, we read that Jesus was taken up to the right hand of the Father, with the promise that He would come again to take you and me and all the faithful to be where He is. It’s a promise that was made over two thousand years ago. Though it has been such a long time, you and I have not wavered in our expectation that God will, in fact, come again to judge both the living and the dead. In fact, it’s a repeatedly confessed part of the certainty of our faith.
Waiting though, I think, is not something we generally excel at, particularly when it comes to the things of God. I wonder, how many of you would say that you really excel at waiting? I mean, not necessarily in the things of God, but in general? How many of you really love those times at Kroger and Walmart when there’s 15 or 20 people in line, because it affords you an opportunity to do what you love to do, that is, to wait!! I don’t about you, but I don’t really know any of those people and I can assure you that I’m certainly not one of them. Waiting, for the most part, is difficult for us because we so often insist on our own timelines and our schedules.
And, the thing is, what we find to be true of ourselves in general, is much more so when it comes to the things of God. But, in Advent we wait, and we go over again in our minds the oft repeated admonitions in the Scriptures, for us to wait on God’s perfect timing, and His gracious providence and care. “Be still and know that I am God (says the Lord). I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
While waiting can seem to us like a fruitless endeavor, it is, in the hands of God, a time a strength and growth. It is when we conclude that all we can do not is pray, that God assures us that He is doing mighty things. “Go on up to a high mountain (says the Lord), “O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
So, Advent encourages in us in the discipline of waiting. But it also serves to keep us alert and mindful of the fact that none of us really knows when our Lord is going to return in glory. In the Gospel reading for this morning, Jesus compares it to the days of Noah, when Noah and his sons were building the ark. People were going about their day to day lives, marrying and being given in marriage. No doubt, they were also mocking Noah and his sons for building a large boat our in the middle of such an arid region. They perceived them as religious fanatics who were perhaps possessed by some fanciful dream or vision.
At once though, the flood waters came. People began to cry out for fear. The judgement of God had come upon the earth and there was nothing any of the people could do to save themselves. Jesus says, so it will be, when the Son of Man comes again in glory. And so, we’re called upon once again in this season of Advent to be ever mindful of the certainty of our Lord’s return.
I think at one time or another we all find ourselves a bit fearful of being unprepared for various things in our lives. Many people, I’ve come to understand, have had the dream about being in a high school class for a major test, only to realize that you haven’t been in class even once over the course of the entire semester. It’s an awkward feeling to say the least.
More than one pastor I know has told me of a recurrent dream that seems to deal with a lack of preparedness. I’ve had the dream myself. People are sitting in the pews on Sunday morning waiting for the service to begin and I’m out in the back room somewhere scurrying around frantically because I can’t seem to find my vestments, my robe, and my stole and so forth.
The point is, we often fear being unprepared for significant events in our lives. And there is no more significant event than the coming of our King in glory. However, Advent takes our eyes off ourselves and directs them to the King Himself. It is true that Jesus will come again in power and in glory, but He will receive you as His own, in love and grace and forgiveness, because He first came to the world and to you in meekness and in humility.
There is a sort of comical bumper sticker I’ve seen that says, “Jesus is coming! Look busy!” It is funny, but it sort of misses the point of His coming, don’t you think? God isn’t fooled by our frantic busyness, nor is He impressed with our efforts to put our houses in order. Rather, He comes precisely to do what we could never do for ourselves. He comes to ransom us from sin and death and from fear and shame. He comes to set our hearts aright and to dwell among us as our God and King. He comes to put a new song in our hearts, a song that expresses our joy even in waiting because we know that our King comes to make all things new and to take us to be His own.
“O Savior rend the heavens wide;
Come down, come down with mighty stride;
Unlock the gates, the doors break down;
Unbar the way to heaven’s crown.”
“There shall we all our praise bring
And sing to You, our Savior King;
There shall we laud You and adore
Forever and forevermore.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
Posted on November 22, 2022 11:22 AM