“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.”
By Pat Prosperi
In this selection of Matthew, we’re told to always be ready for Christ’s coming—since no one knows when that event will happen. How uncertain and exhausting that can sound! How are we supposed to live our lives in a way that will make us ready at any moment for Christ’s return? I wish Matthew had supplied us with a step-by-step guide in how to do this while still working at our jobs, taking care of our children, paying the bills and handling all the many other obligations of our day-to-day lives.
But if we dig a bit deeper into what Jesus told us, I think we can figure out what to do. First, Jesus told us to love one another. That seems like a good place to start—to treat each other with compassion, to offer and be able to receive kindness and support, to demonstrate God’s love to others through our words and deeds.
Secondly, Paul tells us to that we need to grow in faith and in godly living. It is important for us to read our Bible and other spiritual literature, to learn from sermons and other teachers about leading a Christian life, and to pray for God’s strength and guidance so that we become more like Christ every day.
A third step we can take is to join a Christian community. Jesus said that wherever people are gathered together to worship, he will be there. Part of the work Jesus left us to do is establishing and joining churches—to bring hope to the world and work to better our communities. Like any other endeavor, it’s easier to lead a Christian life when we join up with others who are putting their beliefs into practice.
Finally, a very practical step we can take to be ready is at the end of every day, week or month, pausing to ask ourselves some questions: Have I treated others with love? Have I grown in my faith? Have I done all I can to work for and support my church, doing God’s work in the world? To me, this is how we’ll be ready for Christ’s return.
By Dr. Ben Hutchens
While there are many carols and anthems that help us “get ready” for the great festival of Christmas, this setting of of words of the prophet always warms my heart. The promise of the Peaceable Kingdom of God provides a clear sense of hope and calm in the midst of a very hectic season. The recording if of our own children’s choirs in 2019. Next Sunday, on the Second Sunday of Advent, we will present the same at church in our annual celebration of Advent Lessons & Carols.
A shoot shall come forth out of Jesse,
And a bud shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of life shall be with him,
The spirit of wisdom and truth.
From out of the wells of salvation
Will he draw us the water of life;
His waist shall be girdled with justice,
The heart of his heart shall be Love.
He’ll come from the end of his heaven,
And the earth shall be torn from its place;
Our lives shall be filled with his radiance
As floodwaters cover the sea.
Then the lamb shall lie down with the leopard,
And the lion eat straw with the ox,
For the hand of a Child shall lead them
To the peaceable kingdom of God.
It is the words of the refrain that are most meaningful to me. May the voices of the children of Westminster remind us all of the promise foretold by the prophet Isaiah as our prayers for peace and concord ascend to the throne of heaven.