30 Nov If We Live By the Law of Love, We Are Ready – 1st Advent, November 27, 2022
Preacher: Rev. Stephen McPeek
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to the disciples,
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But 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. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
What are we to make of this reading that can come across as threatening? Our reading from today is preceded by a whole discourse between Jesus and his friends about the many difficult things that would happen:
- Rumors of war
- Nation against nation
- Kingdom against kingdom
- Death, hatred, falling away
- False prophets, lawlessness, people will grow cold
Jesus’ friends are concerned and they ask the question:
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Growing up as a young adult, I was exposed to a lot of “end time” teachings with so much speculation about the rapture and the tribulation. People would study end time passages and some of them had intricate calculations about when the end would come. Others watched and studied the development in Israel and looked for clues so they would know. And it was all undergirded with a certain foreboding and fear.
I have a close relative who lives in this kind of paradigm and in almost every conversation, the statement is slipped into the conversation: “I hope you are ready because you know the end is near and he is coming really soon.” What is really meant by that statement is, “Repent and turn away from being gay so that you won’t be lost and cut off from God when Jesus comes.”
I find this kind of discourse wearisome and not helpful at all. But at the same time, what do we do with these kinds of readings?
- Jesus is coming again. Everything in our faith and creeds testify to that. Jesus’ second coming will bring with it something unimaginably beautiful. It will be an event that is powerful, earth and universe shattering, and beyond our wildest imaginations. And this is really all we need to know.
- It really should not matter when He comes again. For us, as baptized followers of Christ, Jesus has already come and lives in us. And like we heard last week, Jesus in us is the fully image of God. We live in this dual reality – Jesus has come and Jesus is coming.
- If we live by the law of Love, if we walk the Way of Love, we are ready. Our job on earth is very simple (though not easy): To love God and to love everyone else that comes across our path. If we do this, we ARE ready. There is no fear in this kind of life because love is what motivates, not fear of judgment or consequences. We are God’s beloved, the apple of God’s eye.
- The knowledge of the second coming of Christ is a comfort to those who are suffering. All throughout the ages, there has been turmoil and everything that was described by Jesus. Right now, to the east of us, there are people who are wondering if Jesus’ coming is imminent because their suffering is so great – winter is here and there is no heat and food is hard to find, children are dying and it must be so, so hard. There are people in our midst who are suffering betrayal and hate, whose lives feel like hell. For those who are suffering, know that the day will come where there will be no more pain and all things will be made right.
In this season of Advent, a time of preparation and alignment with God’s love, let’s focus on love and light. Everything that stands in the way of love in our lives must go. Everything that obscures light in our lives and causes darkness of shadows must go.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen