The Advent Season summons us to live in expectation of the various “arrivals” of Christ: his future arrival at the consummation of the all (Matt. 24:37-44), his coming as human like us (Christmas), and his continual breaking into our own personal life and history (Greek Bishop Nikolaos/Nicholas of Myra...modern day Demre, Turkey).
God tends to enter a person’s life in particular, personal, unique ways. But the underlyingfactor in all of the comings of Christ - end time, incarnation, now - is surprise. When thinking about it, God often seems to approach people when they’re not prepared. They are not looking for God, nor are they expecting God, and maybe they do not even feel as though they have any need for God. Yet, nevertheless, God comes to them.
This ought to tell us incursions of God among us are works of God rather than based upon our awareness, our faithfully developed sensitivities or even our need. God is sovereign and as such free to come and go as God pleases. The element of surprise is crucial in Matt. 24:37-44.
First Jesus teaches, “Truly I tell you this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place (v.34). The he states, “But about that day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, but only God.” (v.36).
Here are two contradictory statements right there together where they continue to rub against each other like flying buttresses hold up a gothic roof. Jesus says, “I’m coming back, but only God knows when.” Jesus’ return bookending his arrival through the incarnation will happen suddenly, without warning and without public service announcements, not unlike the thief in the night.
And so the Advent watchword is “keep awake.” Keep awake, not to keep the divine intruder out to let him in. May Christ arrive, over and again through the Holy Spirit, when faithfulness receives the Kings of kings and the Prince of Peace.