During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together.
In Mark 13:24-37, the gospel text appointed by the revised common lectionary for this past Sunday, we hear, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
We hear and remember these themes during Advent, because Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare for the coming of the Messiah as the Baby Jesus. We prepare for the coming of Christ as John the Baptist cries. We also prepare for the advent of the Messiah as “The Coming of the Son of Man” which is at the heart of this gospel passage.
That’s a lot to prepare for. That’s also a great deal to be alert for and to be awake to. What I find comforting in this text though is that we’re on the same page with the angels and the Son. They don’t know about the coming time and hour, “only the Father” does. What does this mean?
We’re not off the hook. We are to watch and point out for signs of the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. When we see and sense that God might be up to something, we are to wonder, pray, ask and follow. When someone loves and serves their neighbor, it’s our job to recognize that as a sign of God’s kingdom breaking in.
There’s more to this though. While we certainly are to be aware and awake, we are also to be engaged. The fact that at some point the Son of Man will come does not free us from our earthly responsibilities to serve that can be traced all the way back to our relationship with God grounded in Genesis 2.
Some people over the centuries have pointed to texts such as these to defend going off into small enclaves and being apart from the world. I much prefer the take ascribed by legend to Martin Luther, where he is supposedly to have said or written, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant an apple tree today.”
Whether or not Luther actually said that, the point is this, we’re called to be part of this world as Children of God, and to be part of the work of God and the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. We are called and created to keep alert and awake for what God is up to, and to be part of it. We are also to beware of our own ability to deceive ourselves, to become complacent, and/or to become fixated on things that aren’t as important as living, loving and serving.
What do you think? What does it mean for you to be aware in light of this Advent theme? How do you keep awake and alert to what God might be up to in your midst?
Image Credit: Stay Awake