December 2, 2007
St Francis, Norris
Matthew 24: 36-44
Jesus is Watching You
We hear a Christmas song by Ray Stevens at this time of year; Cause Santa Clause is Watching You. No doubt this is a ploy to try and get children to behave if only for the season of Christmas. It is like a free boost of discipline or threatening for a short time frame. Maybe Santa Claus is watching at Christmas but Jesus is watching all year long.
A burglar broke into a home, that he had been staking out, and he was aware that the owners had left for a two week vacation in Europe. As he was rifling through the drawers with a flashlight, in the dining room, looking for the silver, he heard a voice. Jesus is watching you. The burglar froze…silence. He must be hearing things. He had watched the owners leave, hours ago. He went back to his search. Jesus is watching you; the voice came again. He was sure that the voice was not just his conscience and he shone his light in the direction from which the voice came. In the corner there was a bird cage with a parrot sitting on his perch…Jesus is watching you, said the bird. The burglar, relieved, laughed and said to the parrot, “one more word out of you and I’ll come over there and wring your neck. He went on about his business. Suddenly someone or something touched his back. He could feel hot breath on the back of his neck. Slowly he turned and shone his flashlight into the face of a Doberman pincer with teeth barred. From the corner of the room he heard the parrot…sic him Jesus.
Today begins the season of Advent. Waiting, watching, preparing and anticipating, is what advent is all about. And no; not waiting watching and anticipating the coming of Santa Clause…Jesus. But I do often wonder, what will we put more preparation time into…Jesus or Santa Clause? Don’t answer that.
Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord Christ. It is a preparation for the birth of the baby Jesus and the preparation for the second coming or the return of the triumphant Jesus. Every year we prepare for the second coming at this time as though we know that Christmas will be when the second coming occurs. All the while we read scripture like today’s Gospel that says, “But about that day and hour no one knows.”
I have preached enough on the apocalyptic predictions that have been made throughout the ages and the left behind rapture theologies. As I was preparing today’s sermon it dawned on me that there is something I have overlooked all these years. I think I know when Jesus will return. I’ll tell you in a few minutes, so don’t get out your appointment schedules just yet.
Have you ever been in your home, just going through your daily routine and gotten a call that someone you didn’t expect to hear from is in town and wants to stop by for a visit? They will be there shortly. Or maybe the Bishop shows up on your doorstep in Sewanee unannounced? That happened to me a couple of years ago.
What do you do? What do you say? All of you have had a situation like this come up. If you have a little time you suddenly go into panic mode. Picking up things, straightening up, making beds, washing dishes and so on. You know how much time you have so you prioritize in order to get the most visual things straight away for the arrival of the unexpected guest. Throwing stuff in closets or under beds or into the garage or maybe a basement. A quick run of the dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner maybe. Whatever you can do to make things appear better than what your norm actually is. That’s what we do isn’t it?
Real men might say they don’t care but if it is someone important to them (like a boss); they care.
That’s what Jesus is saying when he talks about the flood and Noah. Everyone was going about there lives just like normal. When the flood came they were totally unprepared. When the visitor showed up… the house was a wreck. Because it was a normal day in a normal week in a normal month in a normal year. There were no signs. There were no warnings
When Jesus returns it will be like the flood. There may be a Noah that knows but the general populous will be going about their normal routines. They may try to make last minute preparations and try to hide messes in the closets and under the beds… but too late.
But, maybe not too late for everyone. You know how some people seem to always have their house in order? Everything is somewhat neat and orderly no matter what. Not always perfect, but never completely out of control. That is what I glean from these readings today. That we should get our spiritual house in order. We need to do it now and keep it that way.
If we wait until Jesus comes, before we even begin cleaning our spirit, there will be much more cleaning than we can possibly do. It will be a hopeless situation for us. All those things that we meant to do will be undone. And we really were sincere about our intent to do them. Jesus knows we meant to. Jesus also knows that we did not—even though we meant to. Jesus knows we want to do all those things right now. Now that it’s too late. But we want too. We are good people.
It is all a part of “we have left undone those things we ought to have done and we have done those things that we ought not to have done”. It is all a part of why coming to church is important. It is all a part of confessing our sins and asking forgiveness. It is all a part of forgiving others. It is all a part of being thankful. It is all a part of loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is all a part of worship and belief. It is all a part of sacrifice. It is all a part of accepting Jesus. Accepting him BEFORE he comes to us.
What does all this mean? Any Boy Scout can tell you. It means be prepared. It makes no difference when Jesus returns if we are prepared. Many will tell you that they are prepared simply by accepting Jesus Christ as their savior. Not so. That acceptance is merely the first step in preparedness. That acceptance must be practiced…not just stated. When the end comes, there will be too little time to practice a lifetime of belief. We will be unable to shove all our undone intentions into closets and under beds.
I told you that I think I have figured out when we will see Jesus again. That time will be… Are you ready?... at the end of our mortal lives. Whether it comes to us individually or as a grand finale of all people on this earth. Whether it come suddenly or as the normal progression of life. No matter what we need to have prepared in advance. Our spiritual house needs to be in order. And how can we do that?
We do that by laying aside the works of darkness…now. We do that by putting on the light of armor…now. We do that by beating our swords into plowshares…now. We do that by walking in the light of the Lord…now.
It is true that tomorrow never comes. We should live our lives with that in mind. We should live as if Jesus were coming today…every day. By doing so we can rise to the life immortal. We can be unashamed that Jesus is watching you.