In the Lectionary

Sunday, November 28, 2010: Matthew 24:36-44

As a child, I remember hearing in church about the second coming and Jesus returning. Long before the Left Behind series arrived, I heard the mournful strains of "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" around our church campfires.

One moonlit summer night on my family's farm, I woke up. Enchanted with the rare opportunity to be alone, I wandered around outside. The wind was picking up and a storm was coming in from behind the cedar windbreak. The full moon slid behind a large cloud. It was eerie—and stunningly beautiful. The storm cloud, lit from behind, had a bright center and dark edges. When it broke, the moon sent shafts of light toward the earth. I was pretty sure that Jesus would soon be riding in for his second coming and wondered what he might do if he found only one person out in the field instead of two—so I ran inside to check on my sleeping family. My siblings were all accounted for, but both parents were getting up to close windows in an entirely mundane manner. It was all the answer I required—I went back to bed.

The passage in Matthew contains several small parables of watchfulness. In the days of Noah, the people watched Noah build the ark, collect his menagerie and his family, and go in and shut the door. Yet they then went on with life—until the deluge. The other small parables are similar in tone. Two men are in a field; two women are grinding flour—one of the pair is ready but the other gets left behind.