“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.
Time and timing can be everything.
If you’re a farmer and you plant your crops too early you can lose your crop to a late freeze, too late and you could lose it to a late one. A student that doesn’t pay enough attention to time can easily turn in an assignment late and find they are penalized despite their best efforts as project perhaps worth an A quite easily turns into an F. If a batter swings too early or two late at a pitch, it’s a strike, or possibly a foul that can turn into an out. If a watch or a clock runs too fast or too slow it can throw our entire day off, as we find that our sense of time is thrown off and we scramble to make everything fit, we scramble to get back on track as we find that everything is thrown through a loop.
Imperfect and flawed creatures, subjected to this world that is so bound by time, we can struggle with it even as we try so hard to master it as it seems to slip through our grasps. We lose track of it, we find that it is never enough and, often, we can find that our sense of it is off, especially when the unexpected happens to knock us even a little off kilter. As the old cliché reminds us, time can be the enemy. As Nathaniel Hawthorne would reflect in The Marble Faun, “Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”
Yet there is One to whom time isn’t a mystery, and, because of it, His timing is perfect. It is why we rely so deeply, so heavily on the Lord, reminded that, “For everything there is a season, and a purpose for everything under Heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Before His eyes the host of human events, and the course of time runs seamlessly, flawlessly for our Heavenly Father to see as nothing escapes His sight. Because of this time is never out of His control, as He is able to judge what is right when even when it is impossible for us to even gauge, let alone begin to possibly understand. It is why we can, with confidence, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) knowing that His ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9)
This is the blessing of Advent. For generation upon generation, from that first Gospel message given even amidst the fall of Adam and Eve, (Genesis 3:14-15) God’s people waited, longingly hoping on the coming Messiah. They looked, with hope, for the deliverance He would bring as He came to fulfill the law and offer to them a new covenant between them and their Heavenly Father as He brought reconciliation and salvation from on high. Yet God looked upon the course of the vast human experience, staring through the vast expanse of the temporal experience to find that perfect moment, that absolute right moment in the course of history, for the arrival of the Christ. Then, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
This is what we see even as God speaks to the prophet Jeremiah to tell him “The days are coming.” (Jeremiah 33:14) We hear the voice of God explaining to Him though the time will be right, it isn’t right now. Instead of rushing His purpose or catering to the demands of imperfect people who grow impatient with their lack of understanding, He waited. Looking beyond a single instance of convenience or the momentary arrival of fleeting opportunity, He waited for a moment in time and history when He knew that the birth of the Christ, when the arrival of the Messiah would have the greatest impact. He waited for that one perfect moment He knew would come when His advent would have the greatest impact, traveling through the networks of the greatest road system of the most advanced and connected people the world had ever known amidst a time when the citizens of the Roman Empire were looking for spiritual answers, worshiping their nameless gods and hungered for real answers.
What this reminds us of is the fact that there are going to be times when we think we know better, when we think we understand more, when we want and we don’t want to wait. There are going to be instances in our lives when why right now isn’t the right time is a mystery as we struggle with a sense of timing, when we struggle with God’s encompassing plan. Yet, God sees more and He understands more and He is not just interested in the simple answer or the easy timing, He is interested in making it right. Understanding how fickle we can be, how quickly we can change when change is upon us, it is about when the greatest impact can be had, when the greatest good can be done. In that He looks, with a perfect understanding, not just of the vast human experience, but of each of us individually as He works through our lives in love and hope, edifying and uplifting us through the power of His Holy Spirit.
It is why each day should be spent preparing for His arrival, never certain of when it may come, or how God has moved the course of history to make perfect His timing or His plan. Because of this we must live each day, every moment of each day as if it were the day of that fulfillment of God’s divine timing and plan. In love we should offer ourselves to one another, in hope we should give freely and without reservation, in compassion we should seek to understand all around us, that we may live in the true spirit of God’s divine righteousness. Our eyes should be open to the suffering and the sorrow of this world even as our hearts reach out to the poor and the afflicted that we can seek to offer them the charity and the healing that they long for, speaking the peace of the Lord even as we act within it.
It is why each day should be spent preparing for the Harvest of our Lord, by producing those fruits of the Spirit that edify and nourish those around us. Even as we, as the children of Israel once did before us, await the Advent of our Lord, we should strive each day to put all that we are and all that we hope to be in God’s hands, letting His mercy work through us to uplift us in the boundless grace that He offers. Yes, this can mean letting go even when it is difficult, even when we can’t see the cause and the course of God’s divine plan as He moves through our lives and in it, leaving us to question His timing for us. Yet, as we do we are drawn into something greater than ourselves as He leads us through the wilderness to the feet of the cradle of our dear Savior, that long awaited prophet who has come to lead us from our lowly exile to the heights of God’s true majesty.
Remember, dear Brothers and Sisters, we don’t know the time, we don’t know the place, but it is coming as God reveals Himself to us in His own perfect ways. Ours is then to look to His signs and follow His ways, understanding that He has a plan in all of it for us, moving through the course of everything imaginable and unimaginable until it is finally right. This is why we need to trust Him and make ourselves ready as we seek His Spirit, offering more of ourselves, doing more for others, opening our heart and our souls to His Word that it may lead us in His righteousness according to His plan. Now is not the time to be idle, it is not the time to rest. It is the time to plant that He might reap, it is the time to swing for the fences for the Gospel truth, it is the time, not because those works will save us, but because, in those works, we reflect the grace of the God who, through the Christ, saved us, adopting us as His children, His Sons and daughters, in love and mercy according to His encompassing grace.
Let His plan move through you and draw you in, let His timing lead you, and know that the time of our Savior is at hand.
Now may the peace of the Lord, that transcending, encompassing peace that surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds, spirits and souls in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.