SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” (verses 32-37)
FINDING HOPE IN OUR FOCUS
In the verses leading up to this passage, we learn that Jesus has told his disciples about the coming destruction of the temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew then ask Jesus when all of this will happen (we know from the book of Matthew that the disciples’ question also pertains to his second coming and the end of the age). Jesus only advises them to pay attention, to be ready for hardship, to watch for signs, and to “keep awake.” Yes, Jesus would come again to make all things new, but in the meantime…
I wonder how the disciples felt. Were they excited, or were they afraid when they heard these words? Were they hopeful – or fearful – to watch and wait?
When I lie awake through a sleepless night, my thoughts usually are the worrisome, fearful ones. With no other distractions, my mind can quickly fill every space with hurts and concerns, leaving little room for peace or hope. I dwell on my troubles and anxieties while I wait for the morning to come. This type of “keeping awake” is not what Jesus has in mind.
In a recent podcast, Brian McLaren shared his story about participating in a visual exercise during a group event. The group was instructed to watch a video in which teams of people (dressed in black or white shirts) tossed balls to one another. He was to choose one person and count how often that person threw to another person on their team. Brian was very attentive, and he later learned that he had counted correctly. But he was surprised by the second question: Did he see the man in the gorilla suit crossing the stage during this time? He was so focused on the thrower that he missed a man in a gorilla suit!1
I lie awake and worry because I focus on our worldly troubles, my own mistakes, or my previous hurts, instead of seeking the One who makes all things good, all things new. Today we find our Advent hope in this reminder to watch for Jesus instead; Jesus, who also surprised us, not with a gorilla suit, but as a tiny baby born in humble surroundings.
“Keep awake,” Jesus says. Whether we are lying awake in the darkness or remaining aware in the daylight, we are to keep alert and watch for Christ. When we turn from watching the world to watching for Christ in the world, we can await the dawn of a new day, not with fear and worry, but with eager expectation and fervent Advent hope.
The Bible passage for this Tuesday will be Isaiah 64:1-9.
Bible verses taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/