“An Unexpected Hour”

Matthew 24:36-44

November 27 2016

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches

 

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.

 

 

Prayer.

 

Here we go again.

It is another holiday season.

Another occasion for the preacher to stand up

and tell us to watch and wait for our coming Savior.

The question that has been rolling around my mind

this past week is,

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

Most adults have experience

a parade of pastors in their life time.

Many have participated in Christmas pageants as children;

or have helped children participate in plays in recent years.

Some of you may have even directed a pageant or two.

 

I’ve sung “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

about 320 times in my life.

I’ve preached aboutJohn the Baptist until I’m blue in the face!

Every year, 3 or 4 times each Advent,

the lectionary cycle of scripture hit the same passages

about John the Baptist.

 

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

Every Advent there is a subtle give-and-take

pastors encounter with worship planners;

choir directors, committee chairs, and the like.

Clergy are trained to stick to the liturgical calendar;

Advent is a time to build anticipation.

Don’t jump the gun

and allow people begin to sing Christmas carols

until Christmas actually comes.

Waiting serves a purpose.

Advent should be savored.

Laity enter into worship,

having experienced a constant barrage

of Christmas marketing since Halloween,

and wonder why we can’t sing

“O Little Child of Bethlehem”

and “O Come All Ye Faithful”

on December 2nd.

 

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

Every December we drag the family out

to purchase a Christmas tree,

decorate the house,

and hang the lights.

We charge up the Visa,

experiencing that momentary,

but fleeting feeling of charity.

We might even get a brief feeling of,

“Let’s get the kids together and watch ‘Grinch’ on TV tonight.

It was so good when I was a kid.”

We build up expectation,

only to be disappointed that

“I can’t believe we used to like that!”

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

 

And, what’s the deal with this?

“two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.”

 

I’m 55 years old this year.

I’ve seen a lot of holiday seasons come and go.

I’ve never seen people taken and others being left behind

in some sort of rapturous scheme,

devised by a cunning Savior. 

We talk about a baby being born every year in a manger;

the baby Jesus coming, but,

let’s face it,

we fully expect this to be just another year.

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

 

The danger with Christianity

is that it is too easy to become content with the status quo;

to be happy with the way things are;

to resist breaking out

and discovering how God is calling us to mature and grow –

- what God is calling us to become.

Any faith that allows compliancy

is a faith that would be foreign to Jesus.

A faith that is content,

is a faith that is not Christ centered.

 

 

Jesus does not call us to maintain the here-and-now.

Jesus calls us to be a part of crafting tomorrow’s kingdom.

Tomorrow must be different than today.

Today, people of our world are filled

with terrorism, strife, and war.

Tomorrow, Isaiah assures us

“they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 

neither shall they learn war any more.”

(Isaiah 2:5)

 

Today, our church family and friends

have crafted a character and quality of relationships

that is wonderful to behold.

We have a great thing going here.

People are generous and loving.

When needs arise, they are quickly met.

Relationships run deep.

Wonderful!

 

At the same time,

we are called to build a church for tomorrow,

which must include

the same qualities and characteristics of our church today:

Love.

Grace.

Acceptance.

Welcome.

 

 

What will tomorrow’s church here in East Rochester look like?

 

We can not allow ourselves to be caught napping.

We can not allow ourselves to become complacent.

To attempt to maintain and preserve what has been,

relegates us to working in the field

while others go to meet Jesus.

Those who are prepared

will experience the miracle of the baby Jesus.

Those who are not prepared to meet Jesus

will just grow old and bitter.

 

To stall and prevent moving ahead because,

it might cost us something,

or it might require us to do something more,

or it might require us to make a sacrifice of time or money,

is to relegate us to grinding at the wheel

while watching others leave to be with God.

We will grind ourselves into dust until the day we die

and every opportunity has been lost.

 

 

“What makes this year any different?”

 

This year, we will watch and wait.

We will prepare.

We will work with the expectation that Jesus will come.

We will work for God’s will,

for his kingdom to come to

every individual and family

in the East Rochester United Methodist Church.

 

Let us keep active watch

this season of Advent

and throughout the coming year.

 

 

Keep awake therefore,

for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

 

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.