One Little Word

The First Sunday in Advent; Year A (11/27/2016)

Texts:Isaiah 2:1-5 Psalm 122 (1) Romans 13:11-14 St. Matthew 24:36-44

Prayer of the Day: Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, and enlighten our walk in the way of your salvation, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

24.36 [Jesus said,] “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For 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 your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

St. Matthew 24:36-44. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Be, Be, Be Prepared

“Be, be, be prepared; the model of the Boy Scouts. Be, be, be prepared; the model of the Scouts.” I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember this little jingle, but it certainly was part of my childhood. I was a Scout, like my father before me. I still remember the Boy Scout Oath (“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”) and the Scout Law (“A Scout is is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”) Scouting was a way that my community helped boys to prepare themselves for a life of honor and service in the world. I’m grateful for that training, and to the extent that I have been apply to apply some of these values to my life, I have benefitted from it.

The bottom line is: we don’t know where life’s journey will take us. We don’t know if we’ll have more than our share of trouble or ease; failure or success; bad health or good, grief or joy… If we hope to thrive, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we’ll need to prepare ourselves, hold to our principles, and take comfort from being (or becoming) the people we are called to be.

The early church thought in these terms. They believed that Jesus, who had ascended to be with God, would return to be with them then. I’m sure some of them must have wanted to know when and how this would happen. It seems that even those listening to Jesus in Matthew 24 want to know. The disciples come to Jesus privately and ask him, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the age.” [Mtt 24:3]

What is his answer? He teaches them that there will be no lack of turmoil during the final years, but there is no way to know when it will arrive. Jesus himself doesn’t even know. It will be like the days before the flood, when people’s minds were focused on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They had no idea what was coming.

What is the best a believer can do? Be, be, be prepared. We draw near to God in worship and devotion. We work to see that our witness is as true and faithful as it can be. We care deeply for others in this world. We treat those around us with honor and dignity. How does Jesus put it? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… [and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Mtt 22:37-38]

This, of course, is a message which lies at the heart of the Advent season. During these days of preparation we seek to be, be, be prepared for the coming of Christ into our hearts and homes. We’ll worship, study, pray, reflect and serve, seeking to carve out at the center of our lives a place for the Newborn King to be born anew.

Join us in the journey, will you? Whether at Saint Peter, or in your own congregation, let us make these days of preparation a time of waiting and watching and preparing for the arrival of the Christ. Be, be, be prepared. Christ is coming, indeed.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What are the disciples asking of Jesus in St. Matthew 24:3?
  2. Why did the early church find it important to prepare for the return of Christ?
  3. How did they prepare themselves?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What questions do I have about the Bible’s teaching regarding the end of all time?
  2. How might I prepare myself, in case my life should end?
  3. What could I do during Advent, to enhance my preparations?