No-one knows the day or the hour!

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Advent is a season of preparation and getting ready, not just for the
celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth at Christmas – his first coming – but also for the Lord’s second coming in glory, which could come at any time. As Jesus says in today’s Mark 13:24-37 gospel reading ‘No-one knows the day or
the hour.’  His message to us is to ‘Be on the watch!’, and to make sure we are ready to welcome him when he comes, however and whenever that turns out to be.

One way in which we can get ready for Christ’s coming is to take stock and
get rid of any  extraneous baggage that has collected in our lives during
the last year. We live in a deeply idolatrous society, and it is very likely
that quite a deal of muck has found its way into our thinking and our lives.
I heard one speaker say recently: if you want to know what idols are in your
life, take a look at your Google favorites list or the magazine covers on
your coffee table!  Such things usually express our true idea of heaven: a
beautiful home, a beautiful car, or beautiful clothes. If these are the
things that we look to for deep satisfaction, they may well have become
idols, whether we know it or not.  And they would be a deep embarrassment to
us in the presence of the returned Jesus, to whom our allegiance is supposed
to be total.

For the church through the ages, Advent has meant more than just preparing
to celebrate Jesus’ birth in a stable more than 2000 years ago. It has been
a time to reflect on the reality that the Lord has come, and that he has
promised he will come again, whatever form that return may take. It means
that as God prepared the world for the first advent through prophets like
John the Baptist, so he wants to prepare us for the second advent. That
final coming will be accompanied by cosmic upheaval; but until then God’s
people are to “keep awake” by staying active in service to the Lord and to
others. Having met the Lord in “the least of these” (Matt 25), we’ll be able
to recognize him when he comes. Meanwhile Jesus says: “what I say to you I
say to all: Keep awake!”

-Philip Muston