“Keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13
Grace and peace to you this day!
To follow Jesus is to live our life on “high alert”.
When I was a child I went through the Cub Scout program at our local church. I enjoyed going to the den mother’s house and working on crafts, learning about camping and building Pinewood Derby cars with my dad. Working through the ranks of Wolf, Bear and Lion was satisfying. Cubs, of course, leads to Boy Scouts where I learned even more, but only for a year or two.
One thing I did learn in Boy Scouts that has stuck with me is their motto, maybe we all know it: “Be prepared.” The Boy Scout handbook teaches scouts how to be prepared for many situations and circumstances that will come their way.
I like this motto. It is simple. It is action oriented. It is a way of life.
Jesus said it a bit differently in the parable of the ten virgins. “Keep watch!” In this story there are ten virgins going to a wedding feast. The bridegroom is very late. Five of the women have enough oil for their lamps to go through the night. Five don’t. The five without oil for their lamps beg the others to share. They can’t or they will run out too. While the five go searching for oil, the bridegroom arrives. The five who are ready go in to the feast. The five who aren’t get locked out. “Keep watch,” Jesus says. Be prepared. Be ready.
Advent is a reminder for us to “keep watch” for the return of Jesus.
One of the ways we “keep watch” is by training ourselves to be more like Jesus. The Boy Scouts have the Scout Handbook. Companies have Employee Handbooks. Colleges have Student Manuals. Organizations have a Code of Ethics. Christians have the Gospels, the stories and teachings of Jesus.
Many of us may know those stories and teachings well. But knowing them is only half of what helps us keep watch. It is applying them that makes the difference.
I can know… “love your enemies” but if I don’t look for ways to bless those who would do me harm I am not prepared for the One who said from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I can know… “those who are great in Kingdom of God are last and servants of all” but if I don’t give time and energy to serve the many people around me in need, I am ill-prepared for the One who would take up the towel and basin and wash my feet.
I can know…”all these gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” but if I don’t practice generosity, sharing my wealth with others, I will not be ready for the One who gave up His God-identity to become human and die…that I might become more God-like and live forever.
As we train ourselves to know and practice “the Jesus way” we enter that state of being that is “high alert”. We are ready. We are on watch. We are prepared.
And the world, also, experiences the “the wonders of His love.”
Merciful God, forgive me for knowing too much and acting too little. By the power of your Spirit, bring the knowledge and action together in me, that I might always be ready for my King. Amen.