Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent

and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away

Preparedness and patience.

These seem to be the two key points when Jesus speaks of his return.
He tells that even he, the Son of Man does not know when he is to return:

But about that day and hour no one knows,
neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but only the Father.

This should be enough to stop anyone predicting the end of time,
but unfortunately some will always proclaim that they do indeed know when the end of time is about to come upon us.
The point is, we are not supposed to know.

if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

The meaning here is that if we knew, we would not worry about staying awake.
We would do what we like, carrying on in whatever way we saw fit,
and only cease at the appointed moment.
So the point is not to wait for Jesus return, but rather be prepared.

and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away

Jesus speaks of those in the time of Noah.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day Noah entered the ark

They were carrying along as normal.
Going about their normal lives, doing normal things.

and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away

See, they are the ones swept away, taken away.

Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.

Who are taken and who are left?
Is it those who are prepared that are taken, or those who aren’t?

In the case of the flood, it is those who are unprepared that are taken.
Noah is left. Noah was prepared and was left.

Those who were unprepared were taken by the flood.
Swept away in a flood.

What is the flood that could come and take us away if we aren’t prepared for it?
What is the state we need to always be in as we await Jesus return?

I think the flood and the state of preparedness are related.

The flood is all the things that keep us from loving each other and God.
Those things are the things that will sweep us away.
Those are things that we will cling to as the waters rise,
yet they are the same things that will drown us.

Not forgiving those around us
will sweep us away in a wave of resentment and bitterness.
If we don’t love our enemies,
we will be pulled under and our lungs filled with the waters of hatred.

The flood that will come will be one of our own neglect and hard heartedness.

The key to our preparedness is contained within that flood.

To be prepared for the return of the Son of Man,
we need to forgive everyone always.
We are to love all.
To feed the hungry,
quench the thirst of those without water,
to look after the sick,
to visit those imprisoned, whether in jail or by any other thing that makes them unable to partake in society.

That is our state of preparedness.
Love all. Forgive all. Care for all.

This is about being present to each other.

The overarching way of the flood is one of not being present.
The ones I mentioned were about not being present to those around us.
But the more general way is of not being present full stop.

The flood can be the past that we drown in, or can be the worry of the future.
We drown in both if we are not able to be present.
Being present allows us to be prepared.

Jesus tells us about being present:

Keep awake therefore,
for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 

Keep awake, be present to others.
Keep awake, be present to God.

The flood is a great sleep that we fall into.
Sometimes it is not only  matter of staying awake, but rather waking up.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans:

it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.

So if we are asleep it is time to wake up.
We need to wake up to what is happening around us,
to search out the lost, the lonely, the sick.
It is time to wake up, lest we be caught sleeping.

And once we are awoken, we are to remain vigilant.
We are to be present to all and to God.

The flood that comes from indifference and distraction is one we all need to keep afloat of,
because, unlike those in Noah’s time who

knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away

we have been warned and given the a means of being left, the words, works and life of Jesus Christ that we are to imitate.

Come, Lord Jesus.

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