Welcome to Advent! How is this passage from Matthew good news, and how is it good news at this time of the year? Where is the grace and how do these verses help us to know that we are liberated by God’s grace? It sounds like the law to me. It seems to be about what we need to do to be ready on that great and terrible day, what action we must take so that we will be taken and not left behind. Blessed Advent? Bah humbug!
But hear the Good News. Jesus was announcing the end of the world. It is the day of God’s vengeance on human sin. And this is what God’s vengeance looks like: a helpless baby in a stable in Bethlehem, a helpless man on a cross outside of Jerusalem. The end of the old world of sin and death has come exclusively through God’s reconciling mercy.
Matthew 24: 36–44 is God’s word of promise, a gift to us that we might open ourselves, our eyes, our lives to the incredible, surprising, immeasurable and intimate love of God. It’s right there in front of us—two men working in a field, two women grinding meal—in the ordinary, in the everyday. God doesn’t want us to miss it. God wants us to watch.
✦ Elizabeth Easton, Presiding Bishop, E.L.C.A.