Lectionary Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 24:36-44:

The disciples’ task is to stay awake, to be ready, exactly because they do not and cannot know the day and hour of the triumph of the Son of Man. Disciples are not in the game of prediction. Rather, they are called to be ready and prepared.

Disciples, like Noah, are to build an ark even if it is not raining. The name given to that ark is church. The builders of the church will be surrounded by many who go about their lives, eating, drinking, marrying, living as if nothing has changed, even though Noah has built an ark. But the floods will come, drowning all.

The only difference is that when the Son of Man comes not all will be swept away, because his coming is a quite different flood. It is the flood of his blood meant to save the lost. Some will be left judged by this just judge. Jesus is not threatening, but rather stating facts.

The disciples have been learning what it is they must do. Jesus observes that if the owner of a house had known that the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be robbed. Of course, the problem for most of us is that we think it quite unlikely that someone will want to break into our house. But the disciples must learn to live as those who recognize that the thief is coming and will likely come at an unexpected hour.

Apocalyptic names the time that requires waiting. It is not just any kind of waiting, but rather it is the waiting made possible by a hope made real. Jesus is that hope, and he instills the same hope in those who would follow him. It is not the hope of idealism that tires when the ideals seem unreachable. Rather, it is the hope schooled by the Father’s patience to redeem the world through his Son.

Without patience, those filled with hope threaten to destroy that for which they hope. Without hope, the patient threaten to leave the world as they find it. Disciples of Jesus must learn how to take the time patiently to hope in a world that thinks it has no time for either hope or patience.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.