The Coming Thief


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.

burglar1I 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.


  1. david

    i think i might be using an abridged version of this as a reading during our Christmas Eve service…

    i’ll give credit where it is due, don’t worry 🙂

  2. Laura Droege

    “Called or not, God is present. …He doesn’t need our summons.” I wish I remembered this all the time. All too often, I want to have God at MY beck and call: Present when I want to summon him like a genie, conveniently absent when I would rather sin. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. whipple

    This is not what you were going for, but I have to report that I chuckled at the MS Paint burglar in the driving cap and coke-bottle eye-mask. He resembles a young Robert Loggia.

    It is certainly easy to think, in the course of daily operations under a closed sky, that the coming of Christ may be off in the somewhat distant but not-too-near future. Perhaps the apprehension that I get when I wonder if it might come tonight is a recollection of all those verses saying that the Day of the Lord will be one of joy, but only preceded by weeping and destruction.

  4. Tony Heringer

    Good words Padre!

    I’m camped out in a Starbucks in Roswell while my daughter and her best friend take in a ballet which features a couple of their friends. They have no each other since they were toddlers, they are now yong women in highschool. Wow! When did that happen?

    A comment on this aside: “because I’m just that pompous”

    Well you did go to t.u. and even if you didn’t, you are, like me, a Texan. Can we be anything else? 🙂

    Have a great week-end!

  5. Philip

    Your reference to Aslan made me realize exactly what a marvelous analogy Lewis created in his Great Lion. In Prince Caspian, Lucy is the first to see Aslan because she’s the one really looking for him. Even not knowing when he will show up, she’s constantly on the look out. And then, in Voyage of the Dawn-Treader, when she’s looking in the book that shows her a friend talking about her behind her back, and Lucy begins to think harmful thoughts about her friend, that’s when Aslan shows up, just when she’s not looking, and when she’s doing something she would rather he had not seen. As you said, Called or not called.

  6. kenny green eyes

    i find that the lord is indeed sneaky like a thief. when i boldly think ‘this is what i’ll do’ he whispers ‘what if you did this?’…usually i reply ‘that’s a crazy idea-nonsense’……..but once in a while, my cold heart senses the Spirit and ponders His ways………..i need to be listening for the thief…

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