First United Presbyterian Church

An Unexpected Hour

Matt 24:36, 44

Matthew 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  44 For this reason, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.” 

This July I was trying to keep things alive, to water wisely, the trees and shrubs that need to bear fruit for migrating birds in the fall, the maple that shades our house, the vegetable garden.  I was hot, exhausted, and frightened by the drought.  On the eve of a 3-week trip I linked all our hoses together and hauled them out to the back pasture to water an ancient dogwood.  By the time I reached the tree, night was falling and I was crying.  As I sprayed water up into browning leaves and down into baked earth I poured out my fears and sadness to God.  A peace stole over me as I received the message to stop worrying about things I can’t govern – the rain, the heat.  My orders were simple, although not easy; try to be a decent person, and pray.

In today’s scripture Jesus speaks with his disciples about his second coming.  He foretells signs of the end times – famines, wars, betrayals, false messiahs, and great distress.  Only God knows  the hour, but Jesus asks us to stand firm, and on that unknown day to be ready.  To me, the message is that no matter how bleak or frightening the times become, and July felt bleak to me, as followers of Christ we’re called not to give up, not to indulge in despair, but to strive to govern ourselves on the path of spiritual formation.   Each day by the grace of God, we’re called to be decent people, to fortify ourselves and others through prayer, to be a part of the healing of the world, whether that means watering a tree, comforting a child, or using our gifts in some way to further peace, harmony and justice on Earth.  During Advent, as we look forward to the birth of the Christ child, we’re called to be ready for him to come again! 

Contributed by Jane Steinkraus.

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