“Therefore you must be ready, for the Son of Man will arrive at an unexpected hour.” Matt 24:44–a Jesus saying from the gospel on the first Sunday of Advent.
Advent is a quiet time for Christians who wait in the dark of December for Christ’s arrival both as a baby and a King.
The idea of Jesus coming unexpectedly, like a thief, scares me — especially since I was raised in a tradition that described a terrifying God. I don’t like surprises. And that image of a thief…well, who wants a thief in the night?
But what if this is good news? What if the Son of Man comes with all good things, which may be fearsome but still good?
If you don’t believe Jesus was anything, what if the Son of Man stands in for the presence that arrives unexpectedly, overturns your world into something new, something good, but disorienting?
Maybe we should be ready like children waiting for Christmas or the anticipation before a wedding, or Cubs fans waiting for that final game in the World Series. What about our longing for peace on earth?
Nadia Bolz Weber preached on her Sarcastic Lutheran blog, “Expectancy is what the prophet Isaiah expressed when he spoke of the future in this way: In the days to come God will judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples. (You know what the result of God’s judgement is? Peace.)”
I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.
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Hello, Katie, and thank you for writing about this time of waiting and preparation, too often ignored or simply missed, in the great rush to Christmas. You reminded me of Carl Jung’s definition of God, “God is the name by which I designate all things that cross my willful path, violently and recklessly, all things that upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.” I am waiting for the arrival, once again, of that God who brings both peace and a sword, who requires everything in order to give everything, who–as the Hebrew Bible so often says–creates and destroys, builds up and breaks down. I think we all would be well advised to be scared. We are approaching a ritual that invites us to abandon all things in our human experience and be wide open to the incarnation of the divine. It’s heady stuff. I recall a Midnight service on Christmas Eve many years ago and the end of the sermon was this: “How far is it to Bethlehem? It is exactly, precisely as far as from where you are sitting to this altar rail. If you can make it.” We wait, with expectation, for that which has already come. It is the great mantra of Christianity, “Already and not yet.” So we wait in the darkness and in the silence for that which will change our lives. And, let’s face it, having our lives changed is usually a painful experience. A friend of mine used to say, “There is no end to being delivered.”
What a wonderful comment here. (You should turn this into a blog post.) So many of us want to ignore/deny that–what the Hebrew Bible says about God creating and destroying. There’s a lot of wisdom here.
Lovely post, Katie. Waiting *is* hard–especially in the dark. But I love your take on the beautiful things for which we wait and which are worth it. Jesus and the new heavens and new earth surely belong in that category.
I wish you joy in the waiting and a very Merry Christmas!
Lynn thank you so much for stopping by. Yes won’t it be wonderful when those new heavens and earth come by, when we can see Jesus face to face? You too have wonderful Christmas and New Year as well.