I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “BE ALERT! THE WORLD NEEDS MORE LERTS.” Jesus tells his disciples not only to be alert but to stay alert until the end comes. “I assure you,” he says, “that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen” (ceb). Well, it’s been nearly 2,000 years, Lord, and we’re still here. That’s a long time to sustain eager expectation. Of course, Jesus admits that he doesn't really know. “Only the Father knows” (ceb). So what’s a lert to do?
Once again, Jesus tells a helpful parable: He says the situation is like when a householder goes away leaving the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, then telling the doorkeeper to stay alert. So the doorkeeper has the special job of staying alert, of watching and warning. The rest of the staff have their own jobs. If they all do their jobs, then the house will be ready whenever the householder returns.
So, what’s your job to help the household of Jesus be ready? Is it to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? Or is it more generally to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and take actions that transform the world around you? Maybe it’s encouraging others or teaching or interceding in prayer or any of the other jobs that sustain the household of faith. Maybe it’s being a doorkeeper. You can find your job, learn how to do it, and then get to it. Do all the good you can in all the ways you can as long as you can.* Don’t just be a lert. Stay alert!
*Attributed to John Wesley
Lord Jesus, on this first Sunday in Advent we think about your comings: to Bethlehem long ago, into our hearts, in glory. Teach us to find our jobs and fulfill your plan for us, so that your people will be ready to recognize you and welcome you when you come. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures have a common theme: The people have sinned and turned away from God, and now they cry out for God to forgive them. Even though they have created the separation from God, the authors are confident that God will restore them. These images of longing for God are appropriate as we begin the season of Advent, and the expressions of thankfulness coincide with the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States. Paul opens First Corinthians with thanksgiving for the Christians in Corinth. They have been richly blessed by God (although the rest of the letter shows that they, like us, are far from perfect). Again this week, the Gospel reading refers to the return of Christ, a day known only to God.
Read Isaiah 64:1-9. When have you treated God as a vending machine and held a grudge against God? What restored your faith or changed your perspective?
Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. When have you been frustrated by others’ praises of God’s blessings? When have you cried out to God, “Restore us”?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. How do you ignore your spiritual gifts? What might your faith community look like if everyone employed their spiritual gifts?
Read Mark 13:24-37. What is your job in the household of God? How do you stay alert?
Respond by posting a prayer.