Scripture: Matthew 24:36-44 “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.
Reflection: I am in Cambridge, UK for a training on reflective supervision sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry as I write this reflection for the first Sunday of this beautiful season of Advent. We celebrate and remember every Advent season that into a world filled with despair and darkness, Jesus Christ, God’s gift of salvation, came to save us and enjoin us to his mission of doing God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven (Mt. 6:10).
The story Jesus tells in the gospel of Matthew is one of many stories Jesus told about the end of times and his second coming to establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. In the story, people are going about their daily activities. They are eating, drinking, marrying, working, and sleeping when all of a sudden and without warning, their routines are interrupted by Christ’s coming. In Matthew’s vision of the second coming, Jesus does not remove the faithful from the earth, he leaves them to do God’s will, just like Noah was left by God after the flood to do God’s will. In Matthew’s vision, Christ leaves the faithful ones on earth to do the will of God on earth like it is in heaven. This added responsibility is not a burden, it is an honor and privilege to be handed more missional responsibility by Christ because ‘those who are faithful with a few things will be put in charge of many things and share in Christ’s joy!’ (Mt. 25:21). Our response is not to reject Christ’s invitation to added missional responsibility, but to receive Christ’s call and discharge the mission with confidence and joy. The mission we are called to is not burdensome, it is made light because we are yoked with Christ (Mt.11:29).
To do the will of God on earth as it is in heaven means that we join Christ to alleviate suffering caused by hunger, violence, injustice, abuse of power, joblessness, eradicable diseases, and bottomless grief. Stories about the second coming of Christ do not have to be embarrassing or frightening. They are compelling and hopeful. They call us to be watchful for the way Christ’s out of love for the world, interrupts the routines of our lives, calls out to us, and invites us to join him in seeking God’s righteous kingdom where nations live in peace, and where people are taught the ways of God and walk in the paths of God.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.