Matthew 24:36-44   Steve Heyduck       

36 “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 37 As it was in the time of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Human One. 38 In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 They didn’t know what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. The coming of the Human One will be like that. 40 At that time there will be two men in the field. One will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left. 42 Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. 43 But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. 44 Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.

Welcome to Advent! Advent is the season of preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Does the idea of having 3 weeks to prepare to celebrate something strike you as odd?

I mean, it might take that long to clean house to prepare to host a celebration, but Advent is not that kind of celebration. We have 3 weeks and 3 days this year to prepare our attitudes for celebration.

In early November, Rachel and I attended a performance called “Introduction to Joy.” Lasting about 90 minutes, the presentation was half lecture, half sermon, half PowerPoint presentation. I know: that makes three halves. It was that good! We laughed and nearly cried and left feeling encouraged about experiencing the moment-by-moment joy of God’s faithfulness.

The following afternoon, feeling the weight of many obligations, I sent this text to Rachel: “I feel a long way removed from last night’s Joy.” Do you ever ride that rollercoaster?

Advent is a time of preparation for the deep, lasting joy that is ours to have from God! To receive, and really live in this kind of joy, it’s going to take some time.

Today’s reading from Matthew offers encouragement on this front! Jesus is talking about being ready for his return. Preparing for Jesus’ return is not like cleaning your house for guests, but rather about fundamental change in your life. This kind of change takes time. And focus.

So, welcome to Advent! God invites us to open ourselves to the hope of a different life; a life lived in the presence of Jesus.

Prayer: God, bring fundamental change in my life to prepare me for the coming of Jesus!