By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 24:32-44
32 “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. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 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, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
We have passed the halfway point in December. All the promises we have made to ourselves for a quiet, reflective holiday have now officially been pushed aside. We are now full-throttle. There is still tinsel to be draped on the tree, presents to wrap, Christmas sweaters to be taken out of storage, parties to attend and cookies to bake. (Please don’t forget the cookies! Send them to our editor and request her to forward them to me. Thank you in advance.)
That’s often Christmas, and it’s almost here, but what do we make of this, from this week’s Collect?:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
There is and should be great virtue in a meditative Christmas. We are, as the Collect points out above, burdened by our sins, but actually too busy to make that confession we’ve been promising ourselves to make since last summer.
John O’Donohue, in his poem, “For a new Beginning,” puts it this way:
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
Yet in the soothing music, the images of our childhood of shepherds guarding their flocks by night, and magi riding their camels to the West following a star they don’t fully understand, if we listen carefully, we will detect a rumbling that grows louder. God’s great power is stirring at last! He has taken away our sins, and supersedes them with a call to serve a wounded world. Dare we turn away from the rumbling?
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for thirty years and reside on the Front Range with their granddaughter.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Ikara (Church of Nigeria – Anglican Communion)
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas