For those of you with children, you may be able to commiserate with me for a moment here. How many of you have had the experience of telling your children that you are going to be leaving by a certain time and when that time arrives they are not ready yet? Now, let’s not just blame the children, because there are some adults that do this as well. There are still bags to be packed, coats to be found, and shoes to put on before we even get out the door.
If we cannot even expect to be ready when we are told what time we are leaving, how can we expect to follow the directions of Jesus this morning? Jesus instructs us that we do not know what time the Son of Man will return. Therefore, we should keep awake and be ready at all times. Are you ready?
Most likely we are not. We are caught by surprise as many things happen around the world. In a perfect world, we would like to live where everything goes just the way that we want it to go. We want everyone to be healthy. We want everyone to have what they need to live. We want peace. In the midst of our hopes and dreams come disruption!
Jesus is aware of the disruptions that we encounter. He shares the story of Noah to highlight this point, everyone was “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark.” They were not prepared or ready for the flood of water that was about to cover the world and therefore only Noah and his family survive. They were caught up in themselves. Our lives too are disrupted when we least expect it, and often times when we appear to be least prepared. Our lives are disrupted by natural disasters that we have absolutely no control over. The people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina that occurred over 10 years ago. Families are disrupted on daily basis around the world as wars are fought and lives are lost. The lives of Wayne State University Officer Collin Rose’s family were disrupted as he was shot and died earlier this week.
The disruptions that enter our lives are a lot of times beyond our control. They can tend to disorient us and we become loss. Not all disruptions are necessarily bad though. This morning we find ourselves in the midst of the first Sunday of Advent. Advent breaks into our lives in the church year to disrupt our comfortableness that has come to us since Pentecost. It breaks in to remind us of the coming of Christ. We raise it up at times as a beacon that leads us to Christmas. Christmas comes and goes. Christ does not. God continues to be with us in the midst of the disruptions as Christ comes to lead the way.
In the midst of this, are you ready? Karoline Lewis comments that, “”Are you ready?” is the question usually asked by people who are certain that they are and even more certain that you are not.” I am sure that you can think of certain people that believe they have it all right, and perhaps you may have it all wrong. This is not the point of view I am coming from.
I believe that part of the are you ready question ties into our families, friends, and neighbors. Are you ready to be in relationship with those around you and to reach out with love and compassion at all times during the year? Not just during the season of Christmas. Being ready may mean being with people that you are at times not comfortable being with. This includes reaching out to those that are less fortunate that may need a place to lay their heads at night or a meal to fill their hunger. It may even mean sitting down to have a Thanksgiving dinner with family members that have differing political viewpoints as yours.
Are you ready to be in relationship and enter into dialog with those whose viewpoints may be different, and yet through listening, you may come to understand? We are all created in the image of God, and as we are, God wants to have a relationship with us. Entering into relationship with one another prepares us for the Kingdom of God that is coming.
In this season of Advent, we are disrupted. We are startled awake by those things happening around us. We are disrupted by the story of Noah and the devastation of the flood. Yet, today we are also reminded of the power of water in the sacrament of Holy Baptism. We are called to attention and encouraged to reorient our lives toward Christ. Jesus coming, being named Emmanuel, is a promise that God is with us in the midst of it all.
And as Paul writes in Romans, “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”