Advent 1 C, Matthew 24:36-44 December 1, 2019
There is a word that seminary students tend to love--maybe because it's a big word and makes people feel intelligent: "eschatological". What does the word mean? You have to be able to use it correctly in order to sound intelligent.
Today's readings are eschatological in nature. That is, they deal with the end of the world, the end of humankind, the Judgment Day, the destiny of all humanity. It's a funny way to begin the new church year on the first Sunday of Advent-by talking about the end of the world.
So, what's the point, you might ask, of Jesus bringing up the end of things just to tell us that we don't know anything about it? then we have to ask ourselves this important question, is this church ready for the Second Coming of Jesus?
My friends ask me why I spend my time, my retirement time, working in a church that has so few people. My Monday evening Bible Study has more men in it than we have people on Sunday Morning.
There are about 30 churches without clergy, many are closing, some are joining with neighboring church. I would drive halfway across the state to preach in a church that is hungry for the Gospel. But sadly, those kind of churches do not exist.
But I am frightened when I hear that people here are turned off by the most important phrase from John's Gospel. When Nicodemus asked Jesus "How do I get to Heaven?" Jesus told him three times "You must be Born Again!"
I have heard that some members of this church believe that being born again is only for Baptists. That is like saying that there are only Baptists in Heaven. If that were the case, I will certainly change churches. It is not just for Baptists it is biblical, read John Chapter 3.
Of course it is heresy, it is faith killing, it is arrogance and it is a waste of my time and my ministry. This church has a wonderful, spiritual experience waiting for us in our future. The day when we can say that this is a church full of born-again believers.
Folks, this is one thing we have to get right. To miss this point of faith is disastrous. We heard the Gospel today about two men plowing in the field. On the day of the coming of the Lord, one is taken and one is left. Advent is not preparing us for something that has already happened 2000 years ago. It is not about having a Merry Christmas. We are being prepared for a coming of the Lord at some time in the future.
Jesus is using examples from daily life, two women grinding meal, or preparing dinner, and suddenly and unexpectedly one will be taken, and one will e left behind Can you imagine what it will be like to be the one that is left behind? This event will be sudden. In an instant of time one is taken, and one is left behind.
Expand it a little. Two churches worshipping the Lord. One church is full of people who make up their own doctrine, we are good people, we are Baptized and Confirmed certainly God would not leave us behind. After all we are Episcopalians.
The other church, simply comes to the foot of the cross, Jesus we love you. You know that we are sinners and we are unworthy of your Kingdom, we ask for your forgiveness, you are Lord of our life and you are the only means of our salvation.
One church is taken, and one is left behind. This is the only way that I know of that any person or any church can be ready for the Day of the Lord. I hope this Advent will really be a time of preparation for eternity.
Jess is coming at an unexpected hour. "About that day and hour no one knows," says Jesus. Is this an invitation for us? Is this an invitation for Saint Andrew's Church to be one of the few unique Episcopal churches in the diocese of Connecticut?