Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake. -Mark 13:35-37
Keep awake! But, for what? This passage is from the first Sunday of Advent in year B, for all of you who follow the Revised Common Lectionary. It is an interesting passage for the first day of Advent; it speaks of "the Son of Man coming in the clouds" and of "heaven and earth passing away" but "of that day or hour, no one knows...only the Father." Like I said it is a strange passage to begin our preparations for the coming of the Christ Child, with it's talk of the end of the world and dark days and the world passing away, but also containing the warning that only God knows when it will come to pass.
So what are we to make of this reading for our Advent adventure? It is hard to know, really, what with Tim LeHaye & Jerry Jenkins' best selling books (The Left Behind Series) probably being conjured up by some of you. But for me this charge to "Keep Awake!" is a call to more intentional discipleship. What I mean by that is in this season of preparing for God with us--Emmanuel we are all a little more conscious of loving our neighbor, if not because we are somehow more spiritual then for the simple reason that it is hard to walk into any store without the persistent sound of ringing bells by Salvation Army ringers. Just as we are drawn out from our own selves, from our own thoughts as we walk into the store by those bell ringers, Mark 13 reminds us to keep awake, keep vigilant in our daily walk with Christ during Advent and throughout the rest of our lives.
Merciful God, wake us up not only through Salvation Army Bell Ringers, but also through the shocking and wonderful revelation that you come to us in many ways. Wake us up to your love at work in our lives. Wake us up so that we can see opportunities to serve you and love our neighbors as you have first loved us. Wake us up to the startling, amazing grace of your love found in Jesus Christ. Amen.
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