"Maybe the surprise, when Christ returns, will be that he was here all along. Maybe the surprise will be that, ahead of time himself, he has been calling, gathering, enlightening and sanctifying the meek and all the rest of those who bear his name."
Mary Hinkle, Pilgrim Preaching.
36“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. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But 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.
A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+24:36-44&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yeara/adventa1.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday:
Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader’s thoughts:
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota: http://www.env-steward.com/lectionary/lecta/a-ad1-g.htm
Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do
Unknown the day and unexpected the hour when Christ will come at last: O God, whose word even now goes forth and whose house welcomes all the nations home, rouse our household of faith from its sleep. Strengthen us to beat our swords of war into plows that work in peace. Then nation will not lift up sword against nation and all your children will be ready to welcome your promised day of peace.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
We begin our new year and a new cycle of readings of Matthew’s Gospel at the end. We are in a section wherein Jesus is telling his followers to be watchful. And, he is giving them parables that challenge them.
We begin simple enough: we will not know when God is coming. Then we are reminded of Noah’s flood. And, we are told people will be taken up and some left behind. Then we have the parable of the householder and the thief. This is normally where we get in the weeds with Jesus’ teaching. We typically want to spend all our time trying to either decipher how and when this is going to take place, or we spend our time attempting to understand how we get to be the ones taken away with the Son of Man. However, no sooner have we taken steps down this road and we have missed Jesus’ message to his disciples: be watchful. Be watchful and be ready.
It is actually just how well we are prepared for the coming of the Son of Man which will determine our being gathered. This major shift in eschatological thinking and argument provides for the Christian today a particularly sharp message on this first Sunday of Advent: if you are not ready you must be ready.
In this one series of parables where Jesus calls those who follow to prepare and be ready, he unifies theology of the end times with theology of behavior. Eschatology and ethics may no longer be separated.
How we are in this world has an impact on our life in the world to come.
It will be easy to slip this first Sunday of Advent sermon into a discussion about preparing our home for Christmas, or preparing for the incarnation of God, and even preparing for a season of watchfulness. The message from Jesus and this Gospel author are clear, we are to be ready through our actions.
As we seek to understand what is expected of us in regards to the message of Jesus here in Matthew’s Gospel we might be reminded of the theologian Origen’s comment: Just as Jesus is offering this grace he fulfills and embodies his own words and thereby becomes the model to be imitated. If we look back we discover the unique qualities of Jesus that fulfill not only the prophetic message of Isaiah but also are the basics of Christian discipleship in the world.
Jesus was meek (11.29; 21.5)
Jesus mourned (26.36-46)
Jesus was righteous and fulfilled all righteousness (3.15; 27.4, 19)
Jesus showed mercy (9.27; 15.22; 17.15; 20.30-1)
Jesus was persecuted and reproached (26-7)
These qualities are clearly defined in the beatitudes and serve as a basic roadmap throughout the Gospel of Matthew.
As you and I begin again a time of reading a new cycle we must endeavor to understand clearly how our actions are part of our faithful following of Jesus. We must now listen and read the Gospels together as we begin a year of discerning the message and proclamation of Jesus as given in the Matthean account.
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”