Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)
Verse 24"But in those days, after that suffering,
Verse 28"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Verse 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Verse 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Verse 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Verse 32"But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Verse 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. Verse 34It 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. Verse 35Therefore, 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, Verse 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. Verse 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
Thanksgiving was yesterday, today is Black Friday, and Advent begins on Sunday. Soon we will be preparing to celebrate once again Jesus’ arrival among us. Jesus’ words are a warning for us to keep awake to the miracle of God’s love for us—to pay attention to the fact that God’s promise of a Savor has been fulfilled for us when we are tempted to fill our days and hours too full. We are warned to keep alert when the world would seek to motivate us to spend too much time and money on things that do not last. Jesus’ encouragement in the season of Advent is to stay connected to the community of faith, to hear once again the angel’s words to a reluctant Joseph that it’s OK that Mary is pregnant, to see Elizabeth’s pregnant belly jump in greeting when Mary arrives, to taste the food shared with those on the road to Bethlehem to pay taxes, to smell the stable as Mary and Joseph stumble in and touch the hand of God—all of this, if you stay awake and alert!
God of beginnings, help us to pay attention to the important things and people of Advent this year, and to the best of our ability, to do the work you have given each of us to do while we await your next arrival. Amen.