This is only the first Sunday of Advent, and I’m already feeling a bit hectic. At home our trees (yup, we put up two of them) aren’t even pulled out of storage yet. Our friends complain that we haven’t sent a Christmas card in several years. No presents are bought. The mandatory events that some call “Holiday Parties” are filling the calendar. We miss those whom we won’t be able to spend Christmas with this year. On and on and on.
In the midst of a very chaotic time of year, we get this text about end of time when all will be made right, when God’s reign comes in its fullness.
In the midst of the fast-paced world we live in, especially this time of year, it can be easy to forget our purpose in the world as church is to reveal God’s presence and love and peace. That which this text describes as coming someday—who knows when.
Such a huge gap between that time and now, between God’s will for creation ultimately and where we actually are today. It can be discouraging. No matter how hard we try to be agents of forgiveness, love, grace, mercy, compassion, generosity, and peace in the world, some days it seems like we take one step forward and two steps back. That day of peace seems further away than ever. We still live with:
- Ferguson, MO and the racial and violent unrest it exposes.
- Fear from terrorist groups and all the tension of Middle East.
- Ebola and civil unrest in different countries in Africa.
- Hatred, bigotry of all kinds—both open and beneath the surface.
- Self-entitlement, self-centeredness, self-justification, blaming and scapegoating.
- Churches that bear the name of Christ but are more focused on their own benefit than with their purpose in Christ.
There’s a large divide between what God desires and where we are. For some, this is not a joyous time of year. For some there’s grief and mourning, there’s clutter, there’s pressure, there’s chaos, there’s the anxiety from over-spending on things we don’t need. These things seem to be on one side of a great divide, and God’s grace, peace, and fullness seem to be on the other.
Jesus tells us we better not fall asleep because we don’t know when God’s reign will come across the divide. Be on alert! Keep awake! Beware!
I don’t know about you, but that’s really not my most pressing concern.
There’s more to this text than a warning to be paying attention. No, this is an invitation. No matter how hectic the world is, or how large the gap may seem between our lives and God’s peace, God’s peace is coming. The master of the house will come. God will not abandon us but will keep the promise to make all things new.
It’s not a warning that if you’re not watching, Jesus will pass you by. No! It’s a joyful reminder that God will keep the promise to make everything right. God’s peace and joy cannot be stopped. It’s a reassurance that God comes to us. We can celebrate while we wait. Let’s stay awake together, celebrate together, watch together! The promise will be fulfilled! The divide will be no more! The peace and joy of God are assured. Even in this violent and selfish world. Even in us.