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December 3, 2023

Slow Down and Stay Awake

Pastor KJ Kim

Matthew 24: 37-41

Today’s gospel lesson, “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming,” helps us to create a time to prepare for the birth of God’s son to come and live with us and among us once again, the time that we not only reflect on the past time of 2023 but also to look forward to what the coming year of 2024 will bring, even though it sometimes seems daunting and unknown.

Before Jesus died, he told his followers and disciples he would be right back. What would happen? A decade passed, and then another and another. The expectation and the message for the Second Coming seemed vague as the people who actually knew and saw Jesus began to die off. The gospel writers had to encourage the people who were frightened and tired of waiting—people who wanted to know whether Jesus’s delay was part of the master plan or whether Jesus was missing in action.

We wish Jesus had given us the exact answer of when and what time; however, he set up the paradox that continues to perplex us—"I am coming right back, but only God knows when.” For the puzzled audience, Matthew gave a piece of wisdom focusing on how to live with it—“Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”

In addition, Matthew says that Christ will come back like a thief. This thief is not interested in jewelry, luxurious paintings, items, or TV sets. This thief is just interested in us. Unlike any other thief, this one finds the different valuable—not our silver, gold, or diamond, but our heart, our soul, and our mind. Those are the treasures God wants to find as a thief.

Today, some people still strive to see the current world situation as a sign that we have entered the last days. As history has shown, predicting the end time can be a fool’s errand. The predictors have been wrong too many times over the last 2 thousand years. Please do not get me wrong. That does not mean that we do not stay alert about Christ’s return. The thief may come tonight or in a thousand years or more. No one knows for sure, but God knows.

Rather, my challenge and invitation for us, as we begin this Advent season, is how we spend this Advent season as the people who know about the thief’s coming. Isn’t it true that we easily forget about this thief and intruder?

All we have to do is let God’s beloved thief in and let him do God’s work—not to take something from us, but to give and fill us with God’s hope, peace, joy, and love—that makes us free—as we stay awake and slow down, be aware of the small signs, and be concerned about the work of God by seeking justice, showing compassion to those who suffer and in need.

Let’s keep staying alert. And let’s keep waiting for God’s beloved thief.

Thanks be to God.

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