Sunday, 1 December 2013

To the good?

First Sunday of Advent - Matthew 24:37-44 

Jesus said to his disciples, 
‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the
Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.
  ‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Noah wouldn't think it much of a coincidence that Black Friday (in the United States)  precursors the commercialised mania of the contemporary Advent season. If the credit cards and payday loans aren't already groaning by this first Sunday, the next few weeks will soon see about that. 
For much of the time 'Life' fills our life until almost every thought of freedom has been overwhelmed by the need to conform; to fit in; to have and to hold. In fact we even think we are 'free' - that's how good the sales pitch is -'it's all about you', 'because you're worth it'. We are justified by the media and the image of a life that is perfect as long as it has 'this' or 'that' in it. When we can watch the adverts go by and tick off everything we have achieved, we feel that life is good; we feel that we are good.

One of the Christmas adverts this year has the slogan - 'be good to the people who are good to you'.

 Polite, thoughtful even, but not Christian. 

Before Jesus was even born, the Torah taught that the greatest Commandments were to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Do we love God when we 'do' our hour in church but have no real Sabbath time?

Do we love God when we are unsatisfied with how God has made us?

Do we love God when we say we judge ourselves by 'stuff'?

Do we love our neighbour when luxury means wastefulness and we overlook the beggar, the homeless and the families living in poverty?

Do we love our neighbour when we expect shops and services to be available night and day and we overlook the exhaustion, the time away from families, the zero hour contracts?

Do we love our neighbour when we fill the coffers of the big brands and overlook the child worker, the long hours and the dangerous working conditions?

Matthew will ask these questions again and again during this year. Jesus asks these questions now near the end of his earthly ministry; he must wonder if we have learnt anything from his teaching. 

We are all people in two minds; as St Paul says - we know what we should do and what we should not do - the problem is making the decision; the 'good' or the 'good enough'.

Advent is 'coming'; Jesus is about to break in our lives yet again. Our readiness is being questioned - the desires of the world or the desires of the Kingdom;the need to spend or the need to let go; the wanting or the waiting?

Which one will be swept away?


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