Matthew 24:36-44

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Matthew 24:36-44

Last night I had to drive to the airport to pick Kelley up. It was 8:39 PM when I glanced out my window as I passed a baseball complex. It was full of little kids playing baseball. Little as in grade school kids. That would not have happened when I was a kid. But honestly I would have loved it. Sports had their place but no little kid would still be outside playing an organized game at that time on a school night.

Of course I can’t be critical of something like that. It wouldn’t be American of me. Just as the ancient Romans used games as a public distraction, a way to keep the masses happy and entertained, sports have long passed apple pie as a quintessential slice of Americana. Today we are engulfed by March Madness, spring training in baseball, spring football for colleges, the upcoming NFL draft, and the Masters just around the corner. Why this fascination with sports?

I know all of the arguments for the good that sports can bring into young lives. I agree with just about all of that. My life would have been very different without the role that sports played along the way. But today I’m wondering if there is something deeper involved that sports deliver into our lives.

Something as simple as winners and losers, good guys and bad guys, clear rules and boundaries, contests with beginnings and endings, and a scoreboard at the end that tells the story. All of this is very pleasing to us, especially since real life in the real world is never as clear, never as simple, never as predictable, never as harmless. Sports have a way of distracting us with a clarity that we don’t get in the other areas of our lives. A clarity we long for.

Jesus’ words today are unsettling for the same reasons we find sports to be pleasant. He describes our lives as something along the lines of soccer’s “extra time.” You don’t know for sure when the game will be over. You don’t know when that final whistle will blow. Jesus tells us that the only thing we can expect is the unexpected. He doesn’t even know.

Jesus also tells us that fairness doesn’t get to play. One is taken, one is left. Such uncertainty is a given…and the advice Jesus gives us is to be ready.

The fundamentals of most sports includes teaching something called “the ready position.” Feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, eyes on the target, ready to move in any position. My new golf teacher began by changing my stance and posture. The ready position is crucial.

Jesus says that same thing. You just never know when God will show up. You never know for sure what will happen next. All we can do is to be ready. To come at life from a place of anticipation and preparation rather than anxiety and desperation. Just like every coach I ever had said on more than once occasion – keep awake!

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, open our eyes today that we might see signs of your on-going presence in our lives, in our world. Awaken us to the realities of life lest we be overly distracted by that which doesn’t truly bring life. Give us words and occasions to share with others the trust and hope that you birth within us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 24:36-44”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    “Expect the Unexpected” – “If you don’t expect anything you can’t be disappointed.”
    But aren’t we fortunate to already know that Christ who died for us and for our salvation rose again, was resurrected and lives and reigns forever. If we believe and are baptized we can positively know and expect the outcome for us, Eternal Life.

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