When I ordered internet service at my new home, the sales person gave me a four-hour window of time during which the technician would come to install my cable service. I hated it. The same is true when you order other kinds of utility services or use UPS or FedEx. The dreaded four-hour window: 8:00 a.m. until noon, or 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. No matter how you slice it, it is a chunk of your day when you’d rather be doing something else.
As twenty-first century people, especially Americans, we want things fast and we want them to arrive precisely at the expected time. Christians are not exempt. We don’t like surprises, and we definitely don’t like being caught off guard. Even the four-hour window is better than no window at all. We at least can prepare ourselves emotionally to expect when something is about to arrive. That way the house can be clean, the dog can be on her best behavior, and we can look our most presentable as you open the door.
Yet our scripture today urges us to stay on guard. To keep watch. To be alert. Because we do not know the appointed time. We will not get a four-hour window that will let us know “the coming of the Son of Man.” What does this mean? It means that we must be ever conscious of the coming kingdom. It means staying connected to God and trusting in God for all things at all times.
God of all time and place, may I live today ever conscious of your presence in my life and in the world. Amen.
Advent is a season for turning our minds to the coming arrival of the Christ child. Isaiah looks forward to a future day when peace will reign in Jerusalem. All nations will come to hear the wisdom of the Lord. The psalmist rejoices in going up to Jerusalem in his own day. Jerusalem is a center of peace and a place for righteous judgment among the nations. Both readings inform Jewish expectations of a bright future with the arrival of the Messiah. Paul tells the Romans that part of receiving the reality of the Messiah is self-preparation. We should put aside immoral living and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew looks forward to the future return of the Son of God, which will happen at an unexpected time.
Read Isaiah 2:1-5. How do you look to the Bible’s stories, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to help you work toward God’s kingdom?
Read Psalm 122. What does it mean for you to pray for peace?
Read Romans 13:11-14. How do you stay awake to salvation’s nearness?
Read Matthew 24:36-44. Who in your life lives as though they expect the Son of Man? What does it look like to be ready to meet Christ?
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