It’s wise to be prepared for events which can happen very suddenly; but problems can arise if we’ve prepared for something which never seems to happen. Because then we can begin to think that all of our hard work has been in vain.
And, the early Church had a problem just like that.
The first Christians had been taught about the coming of a new age which would change everything. A time when Jesus would return and when the Kingdom of God would be fully established.
And in the gospel story which we’ve just heard, Jesus is teaching about the importance of being prepared for this. He underlined his point by using a little parable.
He told his followers that just as a rich man’s servants who waited up for him, not knowing when he would return from his party-going, would be rewarded; so would those who were prepared for the second coming ,find favour with God.
However, this hadn’t happened, and the longer the wait, the greater the problem became. And this can be a problem for us too. “It hasn’t happened”, we might say, and then we might be tempted to add, “And it isn’t going to happen in my life time either”.
From there, it’s a short step to forget about it, and not to make any preparations at all.
But the whole reason for being prepared is that, we just can’t know when all of this will take place. Jesus himself said that only God the Father knew. And so, we wait.
But, you know, when you think about it, there’s a great deal of waiting in the Bible. Waiting for exodus from slavery in Egypt. Waiting to return from exile. Waiting for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Waiting for the coming of the Messiah. And now, waiting for the return of Jesus.
God’s people hope for salvation and the hope becomes a part of our story. We have to struggle, because it seems that so often God just doesn’t hear us. Why do evil and suffering so often appear to be in control? Is God angry? Is it our sin? And yet we’re told that God will judge evil, and that he will redeem suffering.
So, perhaps in some way it’s the waiting that’s important. Maybe it’s in looking for the kingdom of God and trying to live by its ways, that disciples are to become the people God hopes for.
As we hunger and thirst for righteousness so we become more just and loving. As we long for that time when everyone will know that they’re loved, so we begin to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Perhaps what we should take from all of this is the importance of our desire to be drawn more deeply into the ways of God and the mystery of Jesus. Given the importance of the waiting, maybe this being drawn in is one of the ways in which we should prepare ourselves as we wait.
And just how do we do this? Well, first of all, we have to be serious about our faith. There may be a great deal about it which is beyond us just now, and there may be large chunks of it which make us feel frustrated and angry. If this is the case for you, take heart. It’s probably part of God’s way of drawing you in.
The most important thing is not great theological knowledge; no; it’s
the realisation that we need to ask God to draw us more deeply into His life.
He will do this, but it probably won’t be by means of a thunderbolt. So keep your eyes and ears open for ways in which he answers your prayer.
When you pray, coincidences often happen. You may feel drawn to speak to somebody. To read something. To visit somebody. Perhaps you’ll feel a strong desire to change the way in which you do something. Maybe your daily routine needs changing. But respond to these things in faith, and as you respond so other things will begin to connect with them. God is indeed answering your prayer, and perhaps the miracle is that he’s doing it through the ordinary things of everyday life.
So, maybe we need to hold fast to the teaching which we find in the gospels. Time will end. God’s kingdom in all its glory will arrive. But as we wait and try to do his will; as we co-operate with him and allow ourselves to be drawn more deeply into his life then Jesus, through the Spirit, comes to us now.
“Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” Amen.