Summary: God surprises us and show up at the most unexpected times.
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
NOVEMBER 28, 2010
Matthew 24:36-44 “Living In Expectation
Living in expectation is a natural experience in life. It is also an important part of life, because it brings with it hope and excitement. Millions of people have been living in expectation for over a year—I have been one of them. I’ve watched the DVDs of previous episodes, and I have even read the book on which the final movie is based, in preparation. Now, Harry Potter and the “Deathly Hallows” has arrived and my expectations have not been disappointed.
If you are not a Harry Potter Fan, there are other events of which we live in anticipation. Many may remember how nine months of expecting the birth of a child shaped their lives. In our daily lives we anticipate vacations, the change of seasons, the arrival of family or friends, a promotion, a championship, the Cubs winning the World Series, or the Cardinals winning a game.
Christians have a unique expectation—the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus has promised to return—at a time we do not know. Followers of Jesus are invited to live in expectation of his appearance, and are encouraged to allow our anticipation and expectation to mold and shape our lives.
Jesus reveals to his disciples that history is going to repeat itself. “As in the days of Noah,” he begins, “so it will be when the Son of Man returns.” Jesus will return at an unexpected time.
We read in Genesis that God sent the flood because no righteous people could be found except for Noah and his family. We assume that evil was so pervasive in Noah’s time that it was a literal hell on earth. We picture that the teen pregnancy rate was in the stratosphere, violence was common, cheating and chicanery were accepted, justice nonexistent, and “might made right.” None of these evils are listed in Scripture.
What we do read is that the people were busy—preoccupied. They were busy getting married, raising families. People at the time of Noah didn’t have all of the time saving devices that we enjoy today. Surviving was a full time job—and that was the problem. They were so focused on the physical that they turned their backs on God—they forgot him, or even worse they ignored him. God didn’t have a place in their lives—and expectation had been lost.
Noah’s time sounds a lot like life today. We are so preoccupied with the physical, or our calendars are so crowded, that we forget about God, or we don’t have time for him. Our lives become drudgery. Our hope dims and the only thing we anticipate is the end of the work week. It is into such lives that Jesus promises to return.
Advent is a time to remind ourselves that the boundaries of life are not the physical. Life is deeper, richer and more dynamic than that. Life is God’s gift to us and God’s involvement in his gift—our lives—is part of the gift.
Jesus has promised to return, and he keeps his promises. He kept his promise to become one of us, suffer and die for us, so that we might experience fully his gift of life. He has also promised never to leave us nor forsake us, and he certainly has kept his promise. Because of his promises, we can live in the expectation that Jesus will return.
Living in expectation requires that, at times, we alter the focus of our lives. We take time to step back and get a truer perspective on life than we get when we obsess on our daily drudgery. Worship, the fellowship of other Christians, reading and studying the Bible, and prayer are spiritual disciplines that enable us to do this.
Living in expectation also requires the willingness to allow God to enter into our lives and the situations that we are in. God does not suddenly appear to us in the midst of a traffic jam on Bell, Grand or the I-10. He comes at our invitation. God does not reveal himself in our struggles and trials until we ask that our eyes be opened. Calm doesn’t wash over us in the storms of life until we turn our eyes upon Jesus.
Jesus instructs his followers to be watchful. For what are you watchful today? What are you expecting to happen?
Jesus has promised to return—at the end of times and in the daily routines of our lives. His presence transforms our lives and our worlds and surprises us beyond our expectations.