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Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Today’s Reading | Luke 12:32–48
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. (NRSV)
The simple message of this passage is this: be ready when Christ returns to usher in the kingdom of God.
When considered in the context of the early church, it becomes more complicated. Most of the New Testament writers expected Christ to return within their lifetime. They spoke in urgent and immediate terms about what they believed to be impending apocalyptic events. Nearly two thousand years later, it is clear that what they believed would take place never did.
Does this call into question the truth or relevancy of these early Christian writings? I don’t think so, though it does demonstrate the fallible human elements of our sacred scriptures.
I tend to think that what Jesus talked about as God’s kingdom has been emerging slowly over time. The “return of Christ” that the early Christians anticipated and that many subsequent Christians have waited for seems to me to be a metaphorical concept. As Easter people, we speak as if the risen Christ is present with us already, and I believe that to be true.
Rather than wanting us to wait for Christ to return in some apocalyptic endgame, God is, I believe, waiting for us to fully realize our calling as the body of Christ in the world. The simple message still holds: be ready. Even more, be attentive and alert, because God’s kingdom is already emerging around us.
Help me be ready, God, for what you are doing in the world. Amen.
Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry
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