By Pastor Mark Combs
I was looking for something in the Bible recently, and in the course of my search I reread this passage from Matthew’s Gospel:
“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 corning 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 corning 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 corning, 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 NRSV)
It struck me as something that we should be thinking about as we go about what we do on Sunday mornings specifically, and also throughout the rest of our week. So the question is, are we ready?
I know that, in this passage, Jesus is talking about the eschaton –the end of time when Jesus comes again. He is making it very clear that wt: art: called to have our affairs in order and be ready for the end of time so that if it were to happen the moment you read this that we would not have a problem. The question is, are we ready?
I think, though, there is more to it for us in the church. I would like to challenge us to take this larger than life, end of times question, and see if it might have some other applications for us.
Here is some perspective — following the recent challenge of weather and the resulting period of time without electricity, Becky and I decided that we needed to do some things to be prepared in the event that we are facing an extended power outage in the future. We have purchased a generator, we already maintained a supply of fuel for lawn mowing and such, and will be having an electrician come to install the appropriate connections to our house to be ready for the next power outage. While I am not sure that confident is the right word, I do believe we are ready.
So, what do we have to be ready for in our lives as the people of St. John’s? We do have exciting things coming. You will find, elsewhere in this issue of the Chimes, an introduction letter from our newest staff member. Vicar Amanda will begin her duties in August as our Youth and Parish Ministry Director. It has been quite a journey to get to this point, and the question is, are we ready? As I write this, the answer is both yes and no. Yes, we have the plan in place. Yes, we have the need to be filled. No, we don’t quite have the office space ready.
That is just one example for us in what do we have to be ready for as the people of St. John’s. There are other examples that come on a daily basis. As we are in the church during the week, we are often called on to help people with the various needs that come from living in our society. Are we ready?
How many times do we have visitors during worship on Sunday mornings? Are we ready? Yes and no.
We have volunteers who serve as greeters to welcome people to our building. We have volunteers who serve as ushers to guide people to worship, restrooms, and how to get around during communion. We have volunteers who serve in the capacity of our welcome center who give visitors gifts and do follow-up with them about their visit.
These are all yeses, but is there more? We have nametags to help visitors learn who we are and to let them know that we can help them with the Lutheran service, but we have to wear them. Are we ready?
Are we ready is a question that can be applied to just about everything that we do. It is clearly a question that can guide us in our life as the church. The answer for us in relation to the end of time is that we can only say we are ready by the grace of God. Our challenge in the rest of it is to continue to ask the question and work on and adapt what we do, so that more and more we can answer that we are ready. Until next time.