32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. Mark 13:32-36
Today’s thought from Henri Nouwen reminds us to be alert so that we will recognise God in everyone we meet. In this he points out that life is Advent – we need to always recognise the coming of the Lord. The first time I ever seriously contemplated today’s reading was when I went to a lecture by our Dean on Mark’s Gospel and the many “secrets” it contains – instructions from Jesus to those around him to tell no-one of what they have seen and heard.
It does seem strange – after Jesus returns, he commands his disciples to go out and tell everyone about him. I have always taken this charge to be vigilant for the coming of God to be the mirror of Peter’s injunction in 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith.” – words I used to use every night with the traditional words form of compline before I moved to the more modern Common Worship language. Both call on us to be ready – that it isn’t ok to sin now, because we have time to repent before God shows up.
I’d never thought of life as Advent before, though it is a good image. However, in this special time, we should take time to reflect on the words above – and then try and make it, in whatever imperfect fashion we can, stick after Christmas. Today’s action calls on us to add fifteen minutes to one end or the other of the day for watchful waiting and prayer. I shall do that tomorrow!