Welcome to Liberal Lectionary Resources
Rev. Dr. Mary Lautensleger
Wake Up! The Alarm Is Ringing! Matthew 24:36-44
Sleep is a necessity of life, just like food and water. When we get too little sleep or too much, our lives can become unbalanced. Like some of you, I am a morning person. I am almost always “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” in the morning when I wake up.
Others of us are night owls, who are still alert and active long after the rest of us are fast asleep. Whatever our sleep style may be, there are certain events that we absolutely don’t want to miss!
In today’s gospel Jesus is speaking to us about our need for watchfulness. We are to keep awake, to be ready for his return. It really is going to be a surprise. When? God only knows. Jesus doesn’t even seem to know.
I can imagine hearing all Noah’s neighbors poking fun at him behind his back as he builds his ark. I can just hear them, “That man must really have lost his mind to be building a great big boat in his backyard. There is no water around here that is ever going to float that monstrosity!”
This is a powerful reminder that we also don’t know when our own lives will come to an end. How can we handle all this uncertainly? By living as though this day were our last on earth. At the same time, we work as though Jesus’ Second Advent were centuries away. In this way we can be in tune with the dual mission of the Messiah to transform ourselves individually, and then to transform the world we live in.
Jesus is calling us to be ready for his return. But, what does he really mean by “being ready?” If the world were to end today, would you be ready to meet Jesus, the Messiah? How will you use this Advent season to prepare for the return of Jesus?
Rev. Drew Herring
7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The season of Advent is a season of waiting. We look forward to celebratory food, drink, and gifts with loved ones. We light candles as we remember Israel’s messianic expectation in nativity rituals. But the part of this season that we rarely recognize, is it’s emphasis on a God who is breaking into our present reality to make things right. I discovered this revolutionary message a couple of years ago as I first began to study the lectionary at Advent. I could understand the selection of the stories of Jesus’ birth, but what do you do with all these apocalyptic, end times texts? How did this fit into the Christmas story?
There is a hunger, an ache, a sigh of desperation that cannot be pacified by receiving gifts or filled by even our most noble efforts in holiday charity. There is something so incomplete, so messed up about our world that leaves us wanting more. We need to join those who formed the lectionary in holding God accountable to God’s promises that all will finally be well.
I bristle with James’ admonition of patience. My six months of unemployment has been trying time emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Without the compensation and sense of identity given by a job, I have found it hard to see myself as a child of God and find meaning in a world that often defines “who we are” by “what we do.”
If I can feel this depth of suffering insulated in my place of privilege, how much greater is the suffering of those whose unemployment means homeless or hunger; those whose existential angst is the result of broken or lost relationship; those whose sense of self is eroded by grave injustice or terminal illness.
Instead of being distracted by the tinkling lights and shining packages of the season, may we join together in “inpatient” intercessions for God’s harvest to come in unexpected ways. Instead of simply singing bright Christmas carols, may we be witnesses to the fact that the rain is late and the plants have yet to yield. It is only when we acknowledge our hurt and the hurt of our neighbors that the ground can be made ready for the blooming of the hope God can offer in Advent and beyond.