27th November 2022
Morning Worship – November 2022
Jesus tells his disciples that only the Father knows when the Son of Man will come to gather his elect. Therefore, they must ‘keep awake’ and ‘be ready’, because he is coming at ‘an unexpected hour’.
Every day we prepare for many things; they may be large or small, truly significant or fairly trivial. This week, we explore how our prayer and inner life can help us to be prepared and remain awake for what is to come and, in particular, for the coming of Jesus.
Lord, we do not know how or when you will call us to
We do not know when we may have to face difficult times,
or when the difficult times we face now may end.
We do not know how and when you will come to us.
Help us to pray and learn so that, when you call us,
we may be ready.
Help us to find courage to change,
to trust you and to listen for your call.
Reading – Isaiah 2.1-5 (New Revised Standard Version)
2 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
3 Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
Reading – Matthew 24.36-44 (New Revised Standard Version)
36 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, 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 Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake 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 unexpected hour.
The Gospel asks us to consider whether we are prepared for the unexpected “coming of the Son of Man”. Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus had told his disciples he would return, and they asked, “When will this be?” Jesus’ answer is given in the reading today – no one knows but be ready. In the passage Jesus talks about the time of Noah. Rather than mentioning the wickedness of the people swept away by the flood, Jesus simply refers to the ordinary day to day activities being followed by the people who were unaware that the flood was imminent. In doing this Jesus reaffirms that there will be no sign of the coming of the Son of Man. We are told to keep awake, at all times, and be ready.
Which reminds me of a conversation I once had with a manager when I was working in the water industry. We had extensive emergency plans in place within my company to cover most risks and eventualities, which were rehearsed annually. These emergency plans were aimed at being prepared for the unexpected but other than the annual rehearsal these plans sat in a filing cabinet, and equipment stored in warehouses, in readiness to be used. Anyway, this manager, a senior director, made the comment that they believed every day activities should be designed to prevent emergencies. In their mind there were two aspects of being prepared: prepared with plans and equipment in place ready and waiting to respond but the better way was being constantly aware and awake to risks and preventing them in normal daily life. It is this second aspect that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel – being constantly aware and awake to Christ in our normal daily life.
What does this mean in daily and practical terms? Well, Jesus covers this in the parables that follow in chapter 25 of the Gospel. The Parable of the Talents tells us to use our gifts daily for the benefit of others. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats tells that in feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger we are doing these things for Christ. We do these things as part of our daily lives, constantly keeping ourselves awake for the presence of Christ.
Today’s Gospel reading asks us to consider whether, as we follow our daily lives, we are keeping awake and fully prepared always, spiritually and in our relationship with God. Keeping awake and being prepared is making the connection between everything that makes up everyday life and the how Christ is part of and influences this.
At this time of year, we can easily be overburdened by preparations. “To do lists” can become burdensome and can be a distraction. Offering our daily lives and activities up to God through prayer and reflection will help keep things in perspective and keep us awake to the connection with Christ in our life.
We reflect on everything we do in our daily lives.
Everything that we have on our “To-Do” lists.
We pray that we keep these in perspective.
Lord, we commend all our to-do lists and our lives to you. May we include you in all our preparation, this Advent and always. Amen
Living God, On this Advent Sunday,
as we light the first Advent candle,
and the first flicker of your coming is kindled in our hearts,
may the flame of our desire for justice and peace
burn brightly within us,
releasing in our lives, our churches, and our world,
the transforming power of your Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
Lord, we pray that in all our preparations
for the coming week and for Christmas,
we may find time to spend time with you.
Help us to be prayerful, watchful,
and full of hope for your coming.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore.