This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. If you are so inclined there is a fairly thorough Wikipedia article about Advent. May we be blessed as we prepare ourselves for Jesus coming liturgically in the manger and again to finally usher in the kingdom of God.
"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."
I’m not a huge fan of the Left Behind movies (I’m sure partly because they leave the youth pastor behind while taking away the faithful lead pastor). There really is a whole lot of theological imagination and expansion of just a few passages to create that endtime (eschatological) worldview. Perhaps it provides some entertainment but pretty sketchy as a way to open up the more cryptic parts of scripture.
I did find the opening scene of the movie with people dramatically raptured away reminiscent of the images stirred up by our appointed gospel text for this Sunday. Two out in the field, one suddenly gone. Two making meal, one suddenly gone. The point Jesus seems to be making is that the time when time is done will catch many unawares. We should live in expectancy and hope as Jesus WILL come usher in the kingdom at an unexpected hour.
So the question that we could ponder is what must we do to get ready? Is it about living the good and proper life? Is it about selling all we have, giving it to the poor and waiting patiently on our last piece of sackcloth? Is it about properly receiving Jesus into our heart through the sinner’s prayer? Is it about going to church faithfully and tithing? Is it about […fill in your potentially legalistic works oriented idea here…]?
What is required to be ready when Jesus returns?
Some say we should live every 5 minutes like they are our last 5 minutes (cue up Stephen Curtis Chapman song). It is hard to maintain that focus (anxiety?) for year upon year—going on about 2,000 years and counting.
Perhaps we should ground ourselves in the deep truth that we are saved by God’s grace. Jesus did what we could not on the cross. We are saved. Because of that we can do whatever—work in the field, make meal, watch a movie, go to school, play Wii, love our families, reach out to those on the fringes, rest, play, worship—knowing that we will be among those that Jesus will gather up upon his return.
God loves you. God saves you. Be assured.
God, bless this time of Advent. Help us return again to the scene at the rustic manger. Help us, too, keep our eyes and hearts open for your final return. Come, Lord Jesus, come.