Long Fly Ball

Mark 13:24-37 – the 1st Sunday of Advent – for November 27, 2011

“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

Mark’s Gospel begins Advent season with a smack against the back of the head. Stay alert.

Stay. Alert.

Stay alert!

As always—for even if Mark 13:24-27 is read for the first time, almost everyone knows about end times, the coming of Christ, the last days of the late great planet Earth, the rapture—we’ll declare, “Sure, I’ll try to stay alert.”

Advent’s First Word: ALERT!

However, will your declaration have an undertone of confidence, sarcasm or boredom? After all, Mark was written over 1,900 years ago. Whoever served as Mark’s first audience, they may very well have tried to stay alert, inspired by the Gospel scribe’s urgency. But those first century believers are dead and gone. Nonetheless, every generation has experienced enough of the worst of the world to be convinced the end’s approaching. Families in the last two millennia have buried children, seen a farm foreclosed or had a spouse’s betrayal cause those particular persons to feel as if the end was not just near, but crashing through their front door. Since Mark first wrote “But in those days…” we’ve had genocide, pogroms, crusades, slavery, depressions, plagues and millions of precious humans riddled by the swords, muskets, bazookas or rocket propelled grenades of war. Is the end near? It feels like we wake up with The End sipping coffee in our kitchen every morning.

Stay alert? Sure, but only because we want to survive the commute to work or the ride home from school. Or we want to make sure we keep the job we almost like in this lousy economy or finish school so we can search for a job that will likely keep us from spending time with our beloved spouse and kids . . . but we have to keep food on the table and gas in the car. On we go.

Can we believe in this ancient warning on this year’s brand new first Sunday of Advent? Continue reading →