12/6/23 Devotional from Ed
December 6, 2023
Scripture: Mark 13:24-37
24“But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It 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. 35Therefore, 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, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Extended car trips in my family always include wristbands and Dramamine since one of our children often gets carsick. Unfortunately, our standard methods were ineffective this past weekend, as our son became sick at two different times in a car ride on Friday to North Carolina.
When we pulled over to get gas and take advantage of a trash can at a gas station outside of Asheville, we didn’t realize that Sam, our toddler, had kicked off a shoe at some point during the car ride. This shoe, unfortunately, must have fallen outside of a car when we opened the door at the gas station, but we didn’t realize it until we got to our destination.
Upon arrival in the rain that night, we opened the car door, noticed Sam was wearing only one shoe, began to move things around to find it, asked each other where the other shoe is, searched the car again, and then faced the reality: Our son only has one shoe, and there’s nothing we can do about it right now. Maybe some toddler parents are overachievers and pack more than one pair of shoes for their toddler, but not us!
During the weekend, I preached on this particular Scripture above. I reminded those in attendance of those key words from Jesus: “keep awake.” Keeping awake to Christ (not just Christmas) can be challenging while we wait for the good news from Bethlehem. It is easy to get caught up in the presentation – all the correct ornaments, the lights, baked goods in the right tins for the neighbors, the Christmas card picture checks out OK, toddlers in cute outfits with BOTH shoes – but those details are not important to Christ. God chose to reveal God’s self in human form in the most humbling of circumstances. “Keeping awake” to Christ is separate from “keeping awake” to Christmas.
I also mentioned that keeping awake to God also involves intentionally looking for the good already in God’s creation. Notice that Jesus mentions a fig tree. Keeping awake to the good can be something as simple as appreciating a fruit like a fig, but it can also be getting the second shoe back after you stop at the same gas station two days later with the hope (maybe prayer) someone turned in the shoe. And this hope was answered!
Some good person somewhere found Sam’s shoe in the parking lot and returned it to the cashier. I don’t know if the person who turned in the shoe is a follower of Christ (definitely a child of God, though), but I do know that “being awake” also involves being grateful for the good from other people. I’m grateful for whatever/whoever nudged this person to think a toddler shoe was worth the walk from the parking lot to the convenience store in the rain.
I’ve said before at FLPC that some good advice I received via text over a year ago was “take the good and be grateful for it.” I think followers of Christ have a responsibility to be intentional about “keeping awake” to the good and THEN bring even more good into the world.
As we await the good news from Bethlehem, let’s start our Advent off with being grateful for the good that we already see in our world. Keep awake to the good that’s already here.
Prayer: Holy God, fill us with your Spirit this Advent season. Through your Spirit, empower us to open our eyes to see you already at work in this world. Remind us of the good that’s already here. And then nudge us to go out into your world to bring good to others! Amen.