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The Unexpected Hour

Matthew 24:36-44

The Rev. Jon Roberts

27 November

2016

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The Last Judgment, by Stefan Lochner 1435

You know what time it is;
The hour for which to awake from your sleep.
It is the Advent of our Lord,
this unexpected hour in which we are to keep.[1]

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and decided to give each other the silent treatment. In his anger, he became careless and broke his cell phone. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day he would now need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, and lose, he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5:00 AM.” He left this on her bedside where he knew she would see it, and to play it safe he wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it to her mirror above her sink. With this, he felt content and went to bed without even saying goodnight. The silence would not be broken. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 7:00 AM and he missed his flight. Furious, he turned to see his sleeping wife, rubbed his eyes, then looked back to see a piece of paper by his side. A note, that said, “It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.”
This was quite unexpected.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans he wrote we are to lay aside the works of darkness, to live honorably, not in quarreling and jealousy. Paul says that we know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.[2] As it was the time for the Roman Christians to end their silent treatment, so is the time for us to change our ways.

As we begin a new Christian year and turn to the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we are reminded to wake up, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.[3] Advent is a time we put sticky notes all around, reminding us the hour is at hand. Put away our quarreling and jealousy, our anger and frustration, our sinfulness. In order to change we are reminded that two men will be in the field. One will be taken and the other one will be left. Two women will be grinding mill together. One will be taken and one will be left. One husband may be angry at his wife. The next morning, one may be late, the other may have left. Our sin is to be left behind. It cannot be taken. We cannot be silent. Perhaps the biggest quarrel is within ourselves. It is this need to withdraw, that makes us give the cold shoulder to the one we love. It is what makes us reside in our fears and struggles, and our weakness. We have fallen into bad habits, lifestyles that do not foster building relationships. It may be physical, mental, emotional distress caused by our inability to stay awake. We make provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires, without seeing how it robs us from truly being close to another.

The flood to which Jesus refers, back to the Old Testament account of Noah is about how your sin, like rising water can drown you. Is it possible that Jesus wants us turn away from sin, to board his ark of salvation…but instead we are giving him the silent treatment?

Wake up, the time is here.
Where do you find such notes posted by God in your life?
If you have been quarreling with God, now is the time to wake.
You may think that you have many years ahead.
You may think that you have plenty of time.
You may think the arrival of Christ can wait because there is so much more for you to do in life.
If you think your flight leaves at 5am, you are wrong.
Jesus does not want you to wait for him. He is already here.

If you can’t see that, if you can’t feel that, maybe it’s because you are too preoccupied with setting your own clock. Only when that clock breaks do you depend on him. Only when you are aware that you are already broken, can you depend on Him. Do not give Jesus the silent treatment. Confess your sins. Cast away the works of darkness.

Open yourself for love and forgiveness to enter and keep you safe.
You know what time it is;
The hour in which you are to awake from your sleep;
It is the Advent of our Lord Jesus, it is the unexpected hour we are to keep.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Romans 13:11-14
[3] Matthew 24:36-44

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