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Jesus said “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:43-44
Two nights ago. At one o’clock in the morning, I was downstairs in our den. I had twisted the television set around so I could get behind it. Squinting, I was writing down the serial number written on the metal plate on the back side. For whatever reason (fear mainly) this seemed like a good thing to do in the middle of the night.
I live in Crieve Hall where we have had a number of homes burglarized recently. Just a few weeks ago, a family in our church had their home broken into and their valuables stolen. Last week, our friends who live just four houses down from us were burglarized in the same manner. The thieves hit in the morning, after both adults have left the house. They smash in the back door and then go for electronics and jewelry.
As a husband and father of two little girls, I am very aware of the threat of home invasion. We have an alarm system which we arm at night or whenever we leave the house. We have a dog. We have a fenced in backyard that I keep chained and locked. We lock our cars and our house. We are also capable of defending our home if we are present. And now I have recorded the serial numbers of all our major electronic devises. We are careful.
As careful as we are, however, I know that a person who really wants to break into my house can do it. With all the burglaries of the last few weeks, I’m even beginning to get this sick feeling that such a crime is inevitable. If not soon, then someday. Preparation is important, but ultimately I am not in control. There is nothing I can do to stop it.
In the Bible reading above, Christ compares himself to a thief who breaks in to someone’s house. Jesus says that if the home owner had known when the thief was coming, he could have stopped him. If my friend down the street had know what time the burglars were coming, I guarantee there would have been a shotgun waiting for them!
My friend didn’t know when they were coming, and we don’t know when to expect Christ. Advent is a time of preparation, but it is also a time to expect the inevitable. Yes, we can pray and fast and give and prepare our hearts for Christ. We should do these things. Yet Advent is also a time to be aware that we are not in control. No matter what we do, or don’t do, Christ is going to show up. He’s going to come into our lives whether we ask him to or not. We might as well get used to it.
I have a sign on the door to my office. It reads, in Latin (because I’m just that pompous) “Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit.” Translated: “Called or not called, God is present.” The Christ who came as a baby, the Christ who will come as judge, and the Christ who comes into our daily lives will come, whether we call him or not. He doesn’t need our summons. I don’t know if that comforts you or scares you today. Maybe a bit of both. Either way, this Christ is the one who loves us. As C.S. Lewis said of Aslan, he’s wild but he’s also good. I welcome his coming.
Thomas McKenzie is the author of The Anglican Way, a book he describes as a traveler’s guide to the Anglican tradition, as well as The Harpooner, an Advent reader featuring harpoons—how awesome is that. He graduated from the University of Texas and attended seminary at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1998 and planted the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville in 2004, where he is the still pastor. He’s also keeps samurai swords in his office, and wears a skull ring.