The Necessity for Watchfulness
36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, [a] but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 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, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[b] your Lord is coming. 43 But under- stand 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. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
What does it mean to be on watch? How are we aware of things going on inside and outside of us? Do we pay attention? How does awareness cause growth? Grati- tude? Even with the hard things?
This has been simply an amazing week. I needed a week like this. I’m not sure what your week has been like, but my hope and prayer that as you come into this time, that you are able to be thankful…and that you are wide awake to the possibilities that surround you.
Our Gospel lesson this morning is from Matthew. Jesus is preparing his disciples, his followers, and those that are listening to him, that the time is coming, and maybe even already upon us, that the Son of Man, would be present with them.
During Jesus’ day, there was much anxiety. Israel was an occupied land by the Roman Empire. They were on edge from the whims of the most powerful force in the world at the time. What’s more, the Roman Empire had enriched and empowered narcissistic rulers in Israel. Things were on edge. Yet, within that, persons were sensing that things were changing. Their hope was for the Son of Man, the messiah to return soon and be a political ruler that would make things right.
What Jesus was saying is so much more. The Greek phrase in this passage for the visita- tion or coming of the Son of Man, is Parousia. It translates as the coming of the King, but it also translates as the Presence of God. This is a theme throughout scripture, that the Kingdom of God is coming and we’ve talked quite a bit in the past about the King- dom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are phrases that tell us that God’s Presence is with us, or coming to us.
Now, Jesus wasn’t a political ruler…no, Jesus wasn’t interested in simply seeking power or going back to some nostalgic era that probably wasn’t as good as people thought. Jesus certainly spoke into power and politics, but he also was about something much more,
much deeper…Jesus was about bringing all of humanity together. Not making everyone the same, actually celebrating our human diversity, while also bringing unity and a deep sense of communal love and connection. Jesus was about a movement of restoration connecting all things and people together in loving, healing, bonds…making people whole…
Jesus, in his humanity, showed us how to love and how to work towards reconciliation and inclusion in his life. After his death and resurrection, Jesus continues on to represent all of humanity. Our passage this morning notes God’s Trinitarian nature. In the first verse it talks about the Father knowing the time that the son of Man will be with us, that phrase denotes relationship between the father, and the son, and bears witness to that rela- tional dynamic of three creating, redeeming, and sustaining through relationship and that Relationship’s flow in and through our lives.
If there’s one thing these past few seasons in our culture have shown us, anything can happen. We cannot produce the outcomes we think we want, nor can we predict the fu- ture. And, we can never really be certain of anything, which God never guarantees, but we can live in relational fidelity with one another, which is what God calls us to be awakened to.
We are called to be awake, to live watchful lives. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, but, at it’s core, it means to strive to be aware of what’s going on inside of you and around you and to pay attention to the potential growth that we can live into as we ask deep questions. As a Jesus follower, I believe that it is also to cultivate a sense that God is coming to us and that God has come to us…that the Kingdom of God is here and we celebrate Advent, the coming of God’s physical presence through Jesus and God’s commitment to us throughout history in Jesus’ representation of humanity.
I love celebrating baptisms. When we baptized 4 children here this past year, it was an amazing time of unity and celebration for our church! The baptism could be a great symbolic reminder of coming together, our unity.
There can be moments in our lives, whether through life events in our families or neighborhoods, or even national conversations that remind us of the divisiveness and walls between us…but, we have also have moments like that baptism that remind us that we are called to be together.
Jesus was baptized also. As we’ve said before, Jesus’ baptism was for all of humanity as Jesus represents all of humanity. When Jesus saw folks being baptized in the Jordan, seeing them symbolically wash away their old lives and live into a new reality of God’s Presence shaping and transforming them, he jumped into the waters with us, had his cousin baptize him in effect saying that his baptism will cover the entire world.
This morning, may we be reminded again of our participation in Jesus’ baptism. As we arise out of the waters, symbolizing our old lives being shed and being awakened to the deeper reality of God’s Presence, of God’s Kingdom in our midst, may we remember that our baptism connects us to all of humanity and even our humanity…we are connected to each other, and to the world through Jesus’ actions on our behalf and the relational flow from our 3 in 1 God.
May we also stay awake to the realities of this world, that we do face dark times in this world, we do experience anxiety and grief…yet, we are not alone…we can overcome that which divides us and move towards real friendship with God and each other. Yes, it is hard work, living in God’s Kingdom presence following the model of Jesus as we work out the practices of reconciliation and inclusion….growing in our maturity.
As we close this morning, there is a great quote from a Hispanic theologian, Miguel Diaz, “As beloved triune community, God ‘dances’ to birth human communities torn by suffering, hatred, and division.”
Friends, keep your eyes and ears open, stay awake, watch, even as the night comes..and dance and be thankful in God’s Presence that has come, is coming, and is here now.