Homily – Advent 1A – November 27, 2022
Young people won’t understand this, but there was a time, not so very long ago, when you had to simply wait for thing to arrive in their own good – and sometimes mysterious – time.
If you ordered a Christmas present for someone from a catalogue, you simply waited. You might run out to the mailbox every day to check and see if it had arrived, but you really had no idea when it would show up – and so you were always watching, waiting, ready to grab it from the box and get it in the house before a child saw the package and asked too many questions.
That, at least, was my mother’s experience in rural South Dakota in the 1950‘s.
And in those same days, if we heard guests were coming from out of state, there was no GPS, there were no cell phones, and no easy way for them – or for us – to guess exactly when the grandparents from North Carolina would arrive. We waited. We watched. We got ready. And we fairly danced, waiting for those mysterious personages to drive up to our door.
That’s the eager kind of waiting that Advent represents. We don’t know exactly how or when we will encounter the coming of the Lord – but we are on tiptoe waiting and watching.
But there’s another side to this. The criminal who thinks he has gotten away with something, who knows he might be caught at any time, is peering out the window too, but he is cautious, anxiously awaiting an undesired car to drive up to take him away, maybe forever.
In today’s gospel we read the story of Noah, when neither he nor anyone else knew exactly when the flood would come. A few watched and waited and prepared. But most went about their lives as if that Day would never come.
And in Jesus’ own day, he could use examples like this: a couple of men were working in the field; one was snatched away – one was left in peace.
A couple of women were grinding meal – one disappeared into judgment, one was left at home to enjoy her family.
If that sounds odd to you, its because we’ve been seduced by an odd, 20th century interpretation that turns the whole parable upside down.
In the Roman Empire, and in many countries right now – “being taken” – is NOT a good thing. It is a terrifying prospect. Guilty or not, judged fairly or not, the threat of being taken from home was real –
Where as in the Bible – the story of Noah is the model – and the story of a thief in the night coming when one doesn’t expect it – all negative examples of being taken away or of having something taken from you – some Americans decided that the story of the men in the field and the women working was somehow a story of a few being snatched away into glory while the rest were left behind – presumably in torment.
Really, the readings for today urge us to pay attention to the times – to notice what’s happening – they urges us to wake up! To do what is right, to love, to care for those in need, to live honorably in the day – not to live according to “the flesh” which isn’t about sex – but about living by the values of the Empire – the values of the “world” including anger, greed, resentment, quarrelling and jealousy –
The night is far gone – the dawn is coming – Put on the Light – Wait for the Light – wait IN the Light – walk in Light – and wait with eager expectation for the coming of the one who IS Light…
You never know when the Lord will appear – but His coming is often, and always and unexpected – and soon – even today – in ways, in circumstances, in people where you may not expect to find Him near.
Be ready – for the Son of Man comes at an hour you do not expect – comes for joy, for peace, for love – and in love.
Not to take you away – but to be with you -as Emmanuel – which means, “God is with us -” – because he is.