Sermon Preparation -
November 29, 1998

First Sunday in Advent (the 4 Sundays before Christmas)
First Sunday in Christian Year Cycle

Matthew 24:36-44

No one knows the day or hour. the angels in heaven don't know, and the Son himself doesn't know. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. They didn't know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.

Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. So be on your guard! You don't know when your Lord will come. Homeowners never know when a thief is coming, and they are always on guard to keep one from breaking in. Always be ready! You don't know when the Son of Man will come.


1. Advent is a time of waiting or preparation for a coming event. Waiting is a holy event. How one waits may be of less importance than simply knowing one is waiting. One of the mysteries of waiting lies in the seeming reality that waiting well is the same as receiving that which one waits for. If one doesn't know when, then when is always now as well as past and future. If one doesn't know when, then now is the acceptable day of saving and being saved.

2. Often this text is used in regard to Rapture, folks being lifted out of this veil of tears to a far, far better place. That gets a bit UFO-like. If you read on to the end of the chapter you will find that the faithful servants are those who are doing their job whenever the "Big When" comes. It is also possible to read this as the chaff will be blown away, the unconnected will be loosed to the winds. There is an importance to the immanence of GOD, the presence of GOD, being tied to the material of creation. If so the blessed are those who are able to be gathered together from all over the earth. The emphasis here is on being gathered together.

3. There is no moral judgment here about how one person is "better than another" and thus able to stay when all about them are blown away or stolen away. At the end of the next chapter, the Final Judgment, so to speak, no one knows why they are on the right or the left, welcomed or sent away. Everyone is doing the same and some are taken and some are left. If this is not about morality, what might it be about? Learning to wait? Something else?

A synopsis: No one knows when ... that's how it is and will be ... always be ready!
So: Smile, smile, smile -- it's a long way to Tipperary.
Be a happy wait-er.

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