Year B Advent 1 Mark 13 2011
Getting Ready
Mark 13:24-37

It is hard for us to understand Jesus' delay in his coming. God's time clock is certainly out of sync with ours as Little Jimmy learned one day as he was laying on a hill in the middle of a meadow on a warm spring day. Puffy white clouds rolled by and he pondered their shape. Soon, he began to think about God. "God? Are you really there?" Jimmy said out loud. To his astonishment a voice came from the clouds. "Yes, Jimmy? What can I do for you?" Seizing the opportunity, Jimmy asked, "God? What is a million years like to you?" Knowing that Jimmy could not understand the concept of infinity, God responded in a manner to which Jimmy could relate. "A million years to me, Jimmy, is like a minute." "Oh," said Jimmy. "Well, then, what's a million dollars like to you?" "A million dollars to me, Jimmy, is like a penny." "Wow!" remarked Jimmy, getting an idea. "You're so generous... can I have one of your pennies?" God replied, "Sure thing, Jimmy! Just a minute." Little Jimmy wasn't ready for that response was he? Our text this morning seems an unlikely scripture for Advent. It has nothing to do with Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, of shepherds watching their flock. Instead it is story about a wealthy landowner going on a trip. The servants left behind were given charge of the estate and when the master returned he would check on their stewardship. It is a story about being prepared, getting ready. In that sense then this is an Advent story, for this is the season of preparedness. Consider with me a moment that...

  1. God Identifies with the Human Situation.
  2. Advent Is Time to Get Ready for the Return of Christ.

The Four Sacred Chords of Home
Mark 13:24-37

Salmon do it. Hummingbirds do it. Butterflies do it. Turtles do it. All these creatures, and many more: they all . . . go home again.

Salmon find their way from the vast ocean back to whatever tiny tributary in which they were hatched. Hummingbirds fly over 6000 miles to find their nesting sites. Butterflies congregate in the same trees, generation after generation. Migrating turtles closed down whole runways this past summer (2011) at JFK Airport as they made their way back to home ground.

The instinct to "go home" is world-wide, widespread in creation and often times unstoppable.

Forget the stockpile of stuff you gathered during last weekend's "Black Friday" madness. Remember as you thought about this Christmas that twinge of home-sickness? There is in each of us a "homing instinct" that Christmas draws out of us. Why?

There is, for each of us, a "homey place" where some part of our soul and psyche long to return, year after year. Why else is Barbara Streisand right now singing in your head "I'll be home for Christmas?" By the way, that song is one of the most recorded Christmas songs, not to mention a favorite "Hallmark Specials" theme songs.

We all get a bit homesick at Christmas time — even if we are "home." We get homesick for our childhood homes. We get homesick for our own homes filled with our children. We get homesick for homes we never had. We get homesick for the homes we left behind.

Did you hear about the teary kindergartner on the first day of school: "You aren't homesick already, are you?" the teacher asked. "No, I'm here sick."

Who first said "home is where the heart is?" Home is not just where the heart is. Home is our main hope of having a heart to begin with.

But is it really the "heart," our true and pure emotional yearnings, that drives our homing-instinct? If an emotional fix was all we needed, then a few smarmy Christmas specials should suffice. But what if "home" is where our soul soars and our spirit is fulfilled? What if "home" has as much to do with our Heavenly Father and the future that awaits us as it does with our earthly family and relationships? What if our "homesickness" is as much about our eternal home as our earthly home?

What if instead of finding our fulfillment in establishing a home, a family, a career, a reputation, a community standing, a professional expertise, a Klout score of over 50 -- what if what we need to be truly "at home" is something different? What if "coming home" is the indwelling and ingathering of the presence of God? What if "coming home" is to be gift-wrapped in the God of love?

In this week's gospel text Jesus assures his disciples that after the hard times comes a holiday, that there will be a "welcome home" party. The triumphant return in "great power and glory" of the Son of Man ushers in a new era, ushers in the fullness of the kingdom of God... presents Leonard Sweet