The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew
Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 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, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 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. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: 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. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”Matthew 24:36-44
Paul warns us today that we shouldn’t get drunk, or quarrel with each other, or be vulgar. He wants us to live our lives as if the world could end, or our life could end, tomorrow.
And the way things are going in this world, today, right now, it could be sooner than we think.
Maybe that’s what Advent is for – in preparation for Christmas, maybe we should take a good look at ourselves – at who we are, and what we are – and see if we have slipped into doing stuff we shouldn’t be doing.
As children of the light we need to be ready for the coming of the Lord. And believe me, no-one knows when that will be. Jesus told us that God alone knows when that day will come.
It could be today, tonight, tomorrow, or a week on Friday.!!
I know that lots of people don’t lock their doors, and I also know of two separate couples both working out back, and each couple, when they came in, found they had been robbed, or were in the process of being robbed since in one instance, the thief was still there..
That’s how the Lord will come – like a thief in the night, or as in this case, in the day – just when we least expect it.
Pow! There He is!
You might say,’ He can come when He likes, He won’t find me doing anything wrong. I am living my life in such a way that I won’t be caught out in a sinful act.’ And that’s good.
But the bigger question is, “Will you be caught out in a righteous act? “
Will he find you actively helping to build the kingdom?
The fact is, that many, churches are just not growing. .
If things don’t change in the next five to ten years, those churches could close.
The time capsule we buried at my own church some time ago may not have had time to get dusty..
What should we be doing about that? And I don’t mean dusting it.
And if we aren’t doing anything about our lack of growth, then who is ? Doing something about it?
Luckily, we have an army of people. People who were called by God to be in his army. People who have been schooled in the Bible – they hear it every Sunday they are in church; people taught by innumerable sermons;.people inspired by the beautiful words heard in hundreds of hymns; to help them with that need.
This army is comprised of people from many different backgrounds, and with many different skills. There are businessmen and women. There are nurses, teachers, managers, firemen, engineers, farmers, computer experts, bakers, cooks, electricians, plumbers, accountants, school bus drivers, finance experts, and so on.
Where is this army? You ask?
It’s right here!
It’s you and I. We are that army, Or at least a regiment, or platoon.
Someone said once, in a planning meeting that our biggest asset is ‘us’. Not the Rector. Not the church building, as beautiful as it might be. No, it’s “Us.” You and me.
She said that we should be persuading spouses who don’t accompany us to church, to come out anyway. We should call on newcomers in the area and take a pie, introduce ourselves, offer help, and tell them we are from the church down the street. Give them one of our leaflets.
We should be bringing grandchildren to Sunday School or our neighbour’s children even.
Workmates should know from our impeccable conduct, our fairness and scrupulous honesty, and our forgiving nature, that we are Christians.
The Sunday service is, hopefully, to charge us up for the coming week so that we can show His face – the face of Christ – out there in the world, talking the talk, and walking the walk.
I have told more than once what I say to new parents having a baby baptised, and I think it it makes a powerful point.
Part of the baptismal prep includes why we give a candle to the child.
I tell the parents about the symbolism of the lighted candle – it shows that in our baptism we pass from darkness into light – and then I put it in its box, and tell them that most people will throw it into a drawer and forget about it.
But I suggest that instead of throwing it in a drawer, they put it in the middle of the child’s birthday cake. Not to let it burn away, but just to have it there for a while.
And not the first birthday, and not the second birthday. But maybe by the third birthday, the child will ask, “Mommy, why do we have such a big candle there in the middle of the cake?”
And I tell the couple. “ You can say,’ Oh that’s what we were given when you were baptised.’”
And the child will ask, “What is ’baptised’?” and you will say, “It’s what happened to you when we took you to church and asked God’s blessing on you and your life. “
And when I say this the parents smile. It is such a nice sentiment.
And then I tell them the child will ask, ‘ What is a church?”
And you will say, “You know when we drive to the supermarket to get our groceries every Sunday, we pass that cute little building, with the boarded up windows? That is the church.
The point being that if parents don’t bring their child to church, there may not be a church.
The same thing applies if we Christians are not actively working to bring God into the lives of people we know, then some day this church will not be here.
And basically, it is just telling people what the church has done for you.
People need to know that they would be joining a community where every person is loved. A community where we eschew pettiness and the blame game……. and look for Christ in each other, ………….and rejoice when one of us is blessed, and grieve when one of us faces loss, or heartbreak, or hardship,………… and we try to be there for each other …… and not only that ……..but we try to reach out beyond this church to bring the love of God to as many people as we can.
You can tell then all that while drinking one cup of coffee.
And if they do come to church, they will hear that we find a closeness with God, through His Son Jesus Christ. And we learn here how God loves us so much that He sent his Son into the world to show us how to live, and when he did that – when he was showing people how to live – some people didn’t like it, and they crucified him, and even though he was God’s Son and could have avoided that, he did His Father’s will, because it was in his dying – when he took our punishment, for us – that we find a chance to start a new life.
And maybe that is something that a friend of yours, or a family member, or a workmate, needs – a new life.
So this Advent might be a good time to look at how we are doing as Christians, and decide that as we prepare for the coming of Jesus we might have to think about making some radical change. We might see that we have been just cruising along, and we might decide that, ‘Holy Mackerel it’s time I stood up and was counted.!’
It’s time I did something. It’s time to change.
And I know that none of us likes change, in our lives or in the places we belong to.
It’s ironic when you think about it, but Jesus came to bring change and even churches – some of them – resist change.
Remember all the fuss about ordaining women?
Or the introduction of the Book of Alternative Prayer?
I knew a couple who threatened to leave their church because the new Rector didn’t bother wearing an alb.
We celebrate the coming of Jesus every year at Christmas time, the arrival of that child who became the man who most changed history, so are we going into a new year doing the same old things, being the same old person.
Because otherwise, what’s the point of it all?
We do wonder sometimes, and sometimes aloud, why ‘they’ don’t do more. Why ‘they’ don’t make this better, or that more effective, in the church or wherever.
But we are they.
It’s up to us.
So let’s presume that we won’t be doing something wrong on that Great Day, but also let us be sure that we will be found doing something ‘good’ that is working for the Kingdom!
After all, when the boss comes by we want to look busy, don’t we?