The Gospel this week is about the unknown day and hour of the return of Jesus (Matthew 24.36-44). And as I say that, I recognize that the pericope (piece of the Scriptures) that we have to work with is too small. We actually need to include, at the very least what Jesus has to say about the fig tree and recognizing the season... when will it be summer again (v. 32-35)? I suggest this because to say that we know nothing about when the kingdom will come, is not true. There are things that we have been told will happen – things that will need to happen before Jesus returns. We know how to interpret the changing of a season from one to another. We will gamble on what we think the outcome of a role of dice or the outcome of a particular sports game or match will be. We can see when a human crisis is about to erupt and hear all about on a 24 hour news channel. But we still fail to see the coming of the kingdom of God.
We have been asked in the baptismal rites in the past few weeks, if we would seek Christ, loving our neighbours as ourselves and if we would serve Christ wherever we find him. We are asked to do these thing so that we are not passive about our waiting and watching for him. We’re asked not to concentrate on ourselves but rather to seek Christ in other places and spaces. We are asked to serve Christ by serving other people. We do this service to keep our faith and our lives from becoming selfish and idolatrous.
The problem is that our society has bought into the myth of progressive thinking and living. People think and believe that this world is basically a good place and what we need to do is make is a better and that will make everything good. Such thinking is not Christian thinking. If we were able to make this world a better place, would we have not done so already? More than that, f we could make this world into the kingdom that God desires to build, then why did Jesus come into this world to save us?
People were waiting and looking for the King that would take the nation back to the good old days of David and Solomon (which by the way were not as great as some would have you believe) when the kingdom was free and doing its own thing. Humanity has not changed that much in the last few thousand years. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” Jesus reminds us. People are going to choose themselves over God and are going to go their own way. Sin and evil are rampant. People are unaware that the next visitation is coming and that they are not ready. It reminds me of one of my favourite books, CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardorbe” when Mr. Beaver and Lucy are taking about meeting Aslan for the first time:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Following the King into the Kingdom is not about being safe. It is about meeting him and building a relationship with him that will lead you into living his life with him for an eternity. God made this possible because God did the unexpected. God came to a darkened manger in an out of the way place. He came through blood and water, through some fear and pain. He did not come to a palace with fanfare. He was received with joy by those who listened to the announcement of his birth by angels.
Christ’s coming to us caused Crisis in the places and spaces of power. There was palpable fear in the people of authority because the King could take it away from them. We shall hear of how these men will react in the coming days and months.
Advent is a time for preparations and for amends. It is time to take care of those things so that we are ready for his coming. He is coming. And until he does, we have as his Church been instructed and enabled to be his community in the world. We’re expected and required to seek him out and to serve him where we find him. Remember, he is coming back not as a baby in a manger, but as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess him but not all will do so happily or willingly.
And as we wait, watch and seek Christ out, remember to manage your expectations of neighbour and even more so of God. After all the Lion of Judah is not a tamed Lion; the domesticated God. But he is God, and God is good, all the time. And remember, God will do the unexpected. Don’t worry about what time it is.