Archive for Comfort

Divine Human Touch

Posted in Homilies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by timtrue

hands_of_god

Matthew 17:1-9

What do you fear?

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world.

Does anyone remember my fist sermon here?  I entitled it, “Making Peace with Ghosts”; and it was all about dealing with a fear I had as a boy of an imagined visitor that lived under my spiral staircase, the Seven-foot Man.  As a boy, I, along with my older brother Andy and especially my neighbor Donny, possessed a great fear of the Seven-foot Man.  We had to learn, as boys, to deal with it.

As I grew from boyhood into manhood, the clothes fear wore became increasingly less fantastic and more realistic.  Questions went from, “What if there’s a zombie living in my basement?” to, “Will I get into the right college?” “What if she doesn’t like me?” and, “How are we going to pay for diapers and baby food?”

More into adulthood now, the fears have increased in scope, becoming more outward in focus: “Why is there such hatred in the world?” “How much more abuse and mismanagement of resources can the earth take?” and, “What if there’s a global nuclear holocaust?”

What are your fears?

Is “Big Brother” watching you?  Are you in jeopardy of financial ruin, or feeling forever enslaved to that harsh taskmaster otherwise known as credit card debt?  Are—or (depending on how you look at it) were—your fundamental human rights of dignity and democracy in danger of being compromised?

What is it you fear?

Today’s Gospel rounds out Jesus’ epiphany. Here, along with Peter, James, and John, we see Jesus in his full glory; that though he is fully human he is somehow, gloriously, also fully God.

Now, that would be something to fear, don’t you think?

Imagine.  You’re walking up a mountain path, following your leader and trail guide, who suddenly is transfigured.  His face is shining like the sun.  His clothes become dazzlingly white.  Two ghost-like figures appear next to him.  And to top it all off a booming voice sounds from the clouds overhead!

These words that tell the story of Jesus’ transfiguration are familiar to most of us.  But a danger here is that their power can get lost in their familiarity.

So, let’s change the scenario up a bit.

Let’s say we meet in the church parking lot one Saturday morning.  Our plan is to hike up Telegraph Pass.  So, since I know the way, it is agreed that I will lead you.

An overcast day, sometime later we pass that last bend in the road near the top, and find ourselves entering and soon enveloped by a cloud.  Then, at the top now—we know we’re there because through the fog we can see the registry box and the bench next to it—all at once you see me with shining white clothes, so bright they even seem to shine through the mist.  And you think, “Man, I’m sure he wasn’t wearing that when we set out!”

And then my face lights up too, illuminating the registry box, the bench next to it, an ocotillo plant, the road, the two other people there with us, even your very arms and legs.  And—whoa!—now there are two more people—Where did they come from?—who by all accounts look just like Thomas Cranmer and Queen Elizabeth—the first!

And then—ah, music to my ears—that voice from above, booming through the clouds, declares to you all, “This is your pastor; listen to him!”

And you think, “Wow, my heart’s beating fast and I’m sweating like crazy and I’m out of breath.  Surely, I must be hallucinating.  This is it!  I’m done for!  Call out the SAR bird!”

Anyway, point being, wouldn’t you be afraid?  At least a little?  For your own health and sanity if for no other reason?

The disciples are so afraid, the Bible says, that they fall down, “overcome by fear” (“sore afraid” in the KJV), with their faces to the ground.

Yet Jesus reaches out and—don’t fail to notice this detail—touches them; and says, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world.  Yet Jesus touches his disciples and tells them, Do not be afraid.

*****

Jesus could have been like Moses.

Along with the Transfiguration narrative in Matthew today, we also heard a passage from Exodus.  In it, Moses went up on a mountain; the mountain was covered by a cloud; the people from below could see illumination on the top of the mountain, where Moses was; and we all know that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face shone with such radiance that he kept it covered with a veil.

This Exodus passage is a clear parallel to Jesus’ Transfiguration.  Which led me, in my preparation for this sermon, to read up on Moses, the larger context; and to compare and contrast this story of Moses with Jesus.

There are numerous similarities:

  • Both Moses and Jesus go up on mountains.
  • Both have companions with them.
  • Both are enshrouded by a cloud.
  • Both hear God’s voice.
  • Both are described as radiant in one form or another.
  • And, in both accounts, other people hear God’s voice and are afraid.

But there is a key difference between the two accounts.

And here, in this key difference, Jesus could have been like Moses.

But he wasn’t.

And I’m glad he wasn’t.

And because he wasn’t, this key difference is what stands out above all for me from today’s passages, our take-home lesson.

So then, what is it?  What is this key difference between Moses and Jesus?

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw that the people were afraid—well, let me just read the account:

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin” (Exodus 20:18-20).

Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and sees all the Israelites cowering in fear before the might and glory of God and he says, “Do not be afraid.”

Fine and well.

But he doesn’t stop there.  No, Moses has to seize the moment, to capitalize on the opportunity; and thus goes on to say, in effect:

But, well, yes, since you are afraid, it’s for good reason!  God is testing you.  In fact, this is the reason God has come: to put fear in you “so that you do not sin.”

Now, Jesus could have been like Moses.  Jesus could have done this too.

But he isn’t.  And he doesn’t.

And I’m glad for that.

Instead, when his disciples see fearsome, wonderful, and awesome visions and hear the very voice of God, Jesus reaches out and touches them; and says, simply, “Do not be afraid.”

No lecture.  No admonition.  No teaching moment.  Just words of comfort and human touch.

What, then, is the key difference between Moses’ transfiguration and Jesus’?  One offers chastisement; the other, positive reinforcement through human touch.

Which approach do you respond to better?

There’s an awful lot to be afraid of in this world: “Big Brother”; financial ruin; the collapse of democracy; ISIS; terrorism; our own sin.  Why would I ever want to add to all of this an irrational fear of God?

In Jesus, God touches us gently, reassuringly, and humanly.

*****

So, from our starting point of Jesus’ Transfiguration, we looked back to Moses and have learned a valuable lesson. Now I want to look forward, to us, the church, today.

What is it we are doing here?

In ancient times—both in the time of Moses and in the time of Jesus—mountaintops were considered a kind of liminal space, a threshold of sorts, between earth and heaven.  They were seen this way topographically—a mountain peak is physically higher than any other place around it—as well as figuratively—places to encounter God.

Moses encountered God on top of Mount Sinai.  Jesus was transfigured on top of a mountain.

We see this concept in other traditions too: the Greek and Roman pantheon dwelled on high, above the peaks of Mount Olympus; and the Delphic Oracle was delivered high on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.

In fact, even in our own day we refer to personal divine encounters as “mountaintop experiences.”

Mountain peaks were understood to be liminal spaces.

Today, here is our liminal space: church.  Here we come, setting aside for a time our cares, concerns, and preoccupations in the world; to meet God.

Now, take it a step further.  In a few minutes we’ll have opportunity to commune together.  Well, what happens when I stand up at the altar and lead us through the Eucharistic Prayer?  Somehow, mysteriously, the bread and wine become Jesus’ own body and blood.

And then, best of all, when we partake here at this liminal space, just like on that Day of Transfiguration when Jesus reached out and touched Peter, James, and John; so Jesus touches us.

God touches humanity in Jesus; God touches us in the bread and wine.

He picks us up from our knees, puts his arm around us, leads us back to our pews, prays with us, and, last of all, best of all, he blesses us and says, “Alleluia, alleluia.  Go in peace, without fear, back into the world, to love and serve the Lord.”

Beyond the Prison Cell

Posted in Homilies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2016 by timtrue

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Matthew 11:2-11

Spoiler alert!

Does anyone in this room believe in an actual, literal Santa Claus—you know, the jolly rotund guy in a red suit with fuzzy white fringe who somehow manages to deliver presents to several billion people all over the world in the mere space of twenty-four hours via a magical sleigh and some flying reindeer?  Anyone?

Well, if so, you might not want to be here for the next few minutes.  I mean, I don’t want to be the one who puts an end to this innocent dream of yours.  Far be it from me to point out that people have been lying to you—your brothers and sisters, your parents, maybe even the whole world.

Okay, maybe not the whole world; that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  But it might feel that way.

I can remember the day clearly—almost exactly forty-two years ago today.  Mom was out playing tennis.  Dad was tinkering in the garage, probably working on one of the cars.  Point is, both parents were preoccupied.

Technically, I suppose, my brother Andy and I were being supervised.  He was seven; I was six.  But, hey, this was the seventies: technically speaking, supervision meant Dad was home, sure; but in reality his two young boys might escape his watchful eye for an hour or two—or several.

Andy realized this.  He was the firstborn and therefore already quite savvy to Mom and Dad’s ways.  I, however, was the second-born and still the baby of the family, quite content to let everyone else fuss over the details of day-to-day life so that I could focus on what really mattered: not on how things really were but on how things ought to be.

Anyway, Andy, realizing that we boys were out from under Mom and Dad’s watchful eye for a while, stood up and walked across the avocado green shag carpet of the family room and turned off the TV and said, “Tim, I want to show you a secret.”

Secret, did he say?  I’m in!

So I followed him upstairs to the entryway closet.  We entered.  He pulled the string that turned on the single 40-watt bulb that dangled at the end of a cord from the ceiling.  And he shut the door.

Then, inside this secret space, he said, “Follow me,” and he ascended the built-in ladder, pushed open the attic door, and disappeared overhead.

“We’re not supposed to go up there,” I reminded from below.

No response.

Well, what was I to do?  What would you do?

I ascended the ladder and entered the attic.

And to my great surprise there were several beautifully wrapped presents, apparently ready to be set out under the Christmas tree.

Andy had a pocketknife and a roll of scotch tape with him.  How they got there, I didn’t ask.  But by now I was thinking this all was premeditated.

His plan, I learned, was to unwrap the presents carefully enough to find out what our gifts were.  He was savvy, remember.  And his head was rooted in pragmatic reality.

But my head was rooted in the world of ideals.

As such, that morning my world caved in.  For I read a few labels.  One said, “To, Timmy; with love, Santa.”  Another said, “For, Andy; love, Mr. and Mrs. Claus.”  And the gig was up.

“Um, I’m leaving now,” I told my big brother.  And without waiting for his approval I left that attic, exited the entryway closet, and went to my bedroom, where I closed the door, fell despondently onto my bed, and cried forlornly into my pillow.

My brother had lied to me.  My parents also, I realized, had lied to me.  Good grief, the whole world had lied to me!

I remember this story from my childhood about this time every year. What triggered it this year was John the Baptist’s question in today’s Gospel: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

Now, John the Baptist was an idealist.  His head usually was not caught up with the way things are.  Rather, his concern was with the way things ought to be.

We know nothing about his early life, except that he leapt in the womb when he met his cousin Jesus, also in utero.  But we can pretty easily surmise that he spent a lot of his early life in study, trying to discern the signs of the times.  For, as an adult he assumed the role of a prophet.  He knew a lot of theology.  He connected his current, pragmatic world to God’s ideal world—the way the world ought to be, when the kingdom of God becomes reality.

All this was fine during his formative years, when he was able to study.  All this was fine as he began his prophetic ministry, as an adult.  All this was fine when the multitudes came to him to be baptized in the Jordan.  All this was fine when Jesus came to him too; and he publicly proclaimed that here is the very Messiah himself.  All this was fine when his message of the way things ought to be was well received.

But then reality interfered and interrupted.  Herod arrested John and threw him in jail.

Wait a minute!  This isn’t how things are supposed to go.  If Jesus truly is the Messiah, then he should be righting wrongs.  He should be increasing while the powers of this world are decreasing.  Yet Herod has thrown John in jail.  The powers of this world are yet triumphing.  Reality is not allowing Jesus to gain a foothold.  All is not fine now!

And John wonders: Maybe my brothers and sisters have lied to me; maybe my parents and teachers have lied to me; maybe the whole world has lied to me.  Maybe Jesus is not really who I think he is—who I’ve been told he is.

So: John the Baptist, the top kid in the class, the one person about whom the scriptures say no one born of a woman is greater, this John the Baptist asks a question that pesters all of us.

Maybe it only comes around only once or twice in your lifetime.  Maybe it comes around annually with Santa Claus.  Or maybe it pesters continuously.  But here it is: Jesus, are you really the Messiah?  Or are you nothing more than a sophisticated Santa Claus story?

Has my family been lying to me?  Have my teachers been lying to me?  Has the church been lying to me?  Has the whole world been lying to me?

And I’m glad John asks it.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the kid to raise my hand and ask a stupid question.

I don’t want everyone else to know that my faith is a struggle; that my faith is weak; that maybe at times my doubt is in fact stronger than my belief, maybe even for long stretches of time; that I often wonder if I even believe at all anymore.

I don’t want to be the one to admit I’ve lost my faith, especially when I’m sitting here in church!

But what about when I’m sitting in my own prison cell, and it sure seems like Jesus isn’t doing anything about it?

We all have them, you know: our own prison cells.

You might feel imprisoned by large events in the world: terrorist acts; supernatural disasters; large-scale events that produce chaos.  You sit there in your cell, imprisoned and powerless to do anything about them.

Or your prison cell might be a past relationship gone bad, and now it’s impossible to seek any kind of reconciliation.  You’re there in your cell, imprisoned and powerless, a cell made for you by another person.

Or your cell might be past mistakes you’ve made as an individual; and now you must face the consequences of your past choices, consequences you’re powerless to change.  Your cell has been made by your own hands.

Whatever your prison cell of brokenness, you are left with no other alternative but to cry out to a savior.

But what if your savior doesn’t deliver?  What if Jesus does not do the things you always thought he would?  What if Jesus does not do the things everyone always told you he would?  What then?

Has your family lied to you?  Has the church?  Has the whole world been lying to you?

I’m glad John the Baptist asks this question from his prison cell today.  Aren’t you?  For he’s the top kid in the class.  And if the top kid in the class struggles with this question, somehow that makes it okay for me and for you—for us—to struggle with this question too.

Jesus, are you the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of this sin-infected world?

Or are you merely a sophisticated Santa Claus story?

So, guess what: Jesus does not answer John’s question directly; which compels me to think, by extension, that neither will Jesus answer our doubts directly. We’re talking about faith, after all; not proof.

Nevertheless, Jesus does give John a kind of answer.  And it is this: look outside your prison cell.

“Go and tell John what you hear and see,” Jesus says: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

And I imagine John’s response: “Fine and well, Jesus—for the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the half-dead, and the poor.  But what about me?”

I know it doesn’t feel like Jesus is saving the world as you sit there in your prison cell with John the Baptist.  But Jesus says to look outside your own prison cell.  And, when you do, if you are able, what do you see?

Despite all the bad news, great strides are being made in the world towards liberation—from oppressive governments, from poverty, from illiteracy, from terrorism, from disease.

And it’s not just global society I’m talking about: great strides are being made right here in Yuma County.  And it’s not just the corporate: we hear an awful lot these days about individual mental health and personal wellness.

All around us, people are being liberated.  Take a look beyond yourself and see and hear it.  Any time we see or hear about liberation for a person, a family, a community, or the globe, this is Jesus at work.  And this gives up hope.

But what about those people who just can’t do it?  What about those who just cannot seem to see beyond their own prison cells, no matter how hard they try?

If this is you, please, I ask, let someone know, someone you trust, someone who might be able to help you in your prison cell.

But know this.  Even there, imprisoned and unable to see beyond the very walls of your cell, Jesus is with you.  You have been fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.  Whatever dignity you can find within yourself, whatever self-respect, there is comfort: Jesus in you.

Comfort, comfort, ye my people, says the Lord.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.

. . .

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

2014 Lent 35

Posted in Lent 2014, Reflection with tags , , on April 14, 2014 by timtrue

consolation

II Corinthians 1:1-7

Consolation.

There is a wonderful picture of consolation that comes from today’s reading in II Corinthians.

But first, I offer some background.

The word is related to solace, which is a kind of comfort in a time of affliction.  The prefix con- means with, or alongside; so putting them together we see a sort of empathetic comfort.  There’s community here: others are involved in comforting the one in affliction.

Think of a consolation prize.  It is given by one person, a judge, to another, a contestant, who didn’t place, but still to acknowledge the contestant’s hard work and participation.  The contestant supposedly draws some empathetic comfort from the prize (the judge, at least, knows how much work went into it) despite it not being a trophy.

(I think this is the idea behind a consolation prize anyway.  But it hardly played out that way for me when as a boy I came in fourth place in a piano competition.  Here the so-called consolation prize served more as a reminder that I wasn’t quite good enough!)

But here’s the thing: consolation goes both ways.  That is, when we’re in a time of affliction (as I was as a boy pianist), we want consolation, something from which we can derive comfort.  This can come from an object, such as a prize, or a person who offers consolation to us through words, a hug, whatever.

Yet on the other hand, when we’re in times of comfort, we can offer consolation to others who are experiencing some affliction or other.

Both sides of consolation are thus active: the afflicted reaches for it; the comfortable offers it.

Consolation, then, is a bridge between comfort and affliction.

Now here’s where my creative mind begins to take over.  For I picture a bridge that crosses a deep and swift river.  And on either side of the bridge sits a town.  One town, let’s say the one on the north side, is relaxed and easy going, characterized by kindness, goodness, and beauty.  The other, South Town, is stress-filled, perhaps overly dramatic, characterized by anxiety and hardship.

The people who live in this region really inhabit both towns.  That is, each resident has a house in North Town and another in South Town.  Everybody really wants to live and spend all their time in North Town, but certain obligations and responsibilities require them to travel back and forth daily over the bridge between the two towns.

Sometimes the obligations in South Town are many, so many, in fact, that a resident ends up having to spend the night there.  It happens to everyone, sometimes frequently, which is why all the inhabitants have residences in both towns.

Occasionally the obligations become so great, so burdensome, that a resident ends up spending a week or more in South Town, sometimes even losing hope that he will ever be able to get back across the bridge and do what he really wants to do–spend time with his family, tinker in the garage, read some books, maybe even write one, play a few musical instruments, play catch in the yard with his son, laze away a summer afternoon in the pool, and so on.  (Of course, this is my version of North Town.  You have every right to make up your own version.)

When this happens–when someone is overly burdened by the obligations of South Town–intervention becomes necessary; a team of volunteers, usually comprised of friends and family, but often of pastoral types too, must cross the bridge into South Town and rescue said obligation-buried resident by carrying him (or her) back over the bridge into North Town.

But it’s risky work.  For most times one of the intervention team falls away, turns aside, or otherwise suddenly remembers an obligation she (or he) must now tend to in South Town; and she ends up stuck there for a week or more until another intervention team must make a rescue.

And the cycle repeats itself.

Anyway, these two towns’ real names are Comfort and Affliction, and the bridge between them is Consolation.  May we console and be consoled by others.

Finding Comfort in Apocalypse

Posted in Homilies with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by timtrue

Matthew 24:36-44

“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls; whenever candle lights flicker where the air is deathly still—that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!”

So begins one of my favorite attractions at Disneyland: The Haunted Mansion.

We’ve entered a room through a doorway akin to a mouth, gaping, where we now are packed in tightly with loved ones and strangers—I don’t know, maybe something like fifty of us.  The closed doorway has recently shut all manner of sunlight out; our eyes are still adjusting to the dimness.

Our host’s voice comes to us from somewhere overhead, inviting us to look upward.  There we see eight family portraits lining the upper walls of this octagonal room.  Then, as the voice continues, the room’s floor starts descending; and the portraits extend, revealing that not all things are as they seem.  A nice-looking girl with a parasol, for instance, is now seen to be balancing precariously on a tightrope above a pit filled with hungry alligators!

Finally, as the family scenes reach their full length and after a loud scream, the voice of our ghost-host concludes.  We will take a tour of this haunted mansion via a three-passenger conveyor car.  But watch out, we are warned!  A ghost or a zombie may ride along with us at any moment.

All this, of course, is simply an introduction to the tour itself.  But we don’t necessarily see it that way—as an introduction—especially if it’s our first time.  Rather, it’s a part of the overall experience.  We find it somewhat frightening, sure; but we also take a certain comfort in that, deep down, at the bottom of it all, we know it isn’t actually real.

Today’s Gospel passage is our introduction to the Church year.  And like the introduction to Disneyland’s The Haunted Mansion, some things about the passage may actually frighten us—especially if this is your first cognizant experience of it.

Listen to these words again, and let them sink in a bit:

  • For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
  • They knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
  • Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
  • Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.

This is frightening.  There’s a sense of apocalypse here, isn’t there?  Apocalypse: the end of the world as we know it.  That fires the imagination, doesn’t it?  What if, we ask?  What would things be like if there actually were an apocalypse in our lifetime?

But unlike Disneyland’s attraction, where we draw a certain comfort from knowing that deep down it isn’t actually real, in this case of the Gospel we know it is real.  Christ will come again!  And that will mean the end of the world as we know it.  And that’s frightening!

So let’s pause for a moment and consider this idea of apocalypse.  We humans seem to have a certain fascination with it.  For, at the same time, the idea of apocalypse both fires the imagination and frightens us.

Take popular media.  Ever heard of the TV show The Walking Dead?  It’s all about zombies roaming the earth after an apocalyptic event and the humans who struggle to survive.  Or how about the film Warm Bodies?  It’s a comedy about a zombie boy and a human girl who fall in love in a post-apocalyptic world—based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Now my gut instinct is to laugh at this idea.  A zombie apocalypse?  Pshaw!  Nevertheless, I did a little research, just to see how far back we can actually trace this idea of zombies and their connection to apocalypse.

To qualify, I used the Christian idea that the human person is the union of body and spirit.  When this union is severed, there are unusual results.  A spirit without a body is a ghost.  On the other hand, an animate human body without a spirit—that’s how I define zombie.

And wouldn’t you know?  According to this definition, zombies are there in that oldest of ancient texts, The Epic of Gilgamesh, when the god Anu vows to open the gates of the netherworld and unleash zombies to satisfy his daughter Ishtar’s anger.  They’re also there in the Bible.  Yeah!  In Zechariah 14:12 and Isaiah 26:19-20, the people of Jerusalem are told to hide themselves from a plague of walking corpses.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this idea of apocalypse is nothing new.  It was around in ancient times.  It is around today.  And—guess what?—it was around in Jesus’s day.  Yes, the idea of apocalypse captivated the minds of the ancient Mediterranean peoples too—whether in a Jewish sect like the Qumran community or the Roman aristocracy.

Will there actually be zombies in the Day of the Lord?  We don’t know, truth be told.  But our imagination, our fascination with the idea, and out fright have made room for it.

So, on the one hand, Jesus’s words in today’s Gospel passage are somewhat frightening, for they suggest apocalypse.  But, on the other hand, they are comforting.

They are comforting, not because they are like the Disneyland ride: unreal; but because there is, at the bottom of it all, a greater reality than what we know.  That greater reality is the kingdom of heaven, where we will end up in our liturgical readings fifty-one weeks from today.

The kingdom of heaven is governed by a loving and other-serving King.  Exactly what it will look like and exactly how things will come about—these details are unknown, sure!  And in these uncertain details we might become anxious, perhaps even frightened.  But the big picture is that God is good and loving; we therefore have nothing to fear.  This is real comfort.

But they are comforting words too because they are not just about the end of the world, but about today.  We don’t need to be sweating about the details of what is to come, whether there will be zombies or a rapture or whatever.  Today’s Gospel passage tells us how to live—today!  Whether or not we will experience Jesus’s second coming in our lifetime!

“But understand this,” it says: “if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.”

How do you protect yourself from a thief?  It takes some thought and preparation: a security system, maybe some insurance, locks on doors and windows.  But then what?  You go on living your daily life.  Perhaps a thief will come someday and rob you of your goods.  Or maybe not.  You don’t know!  And you definitely shouldn’t spend your daily life fretting over it.

That’s life in Christ.  Think about that life; and prepare for it.  Trust Jesus as your savior and Lord.  Be baptized.  Reconcile yourself to your brothers and sisters.  Partake at the Lord’s Table with the saints.  But then what?  Carry on with daily life—as people did in the days of Noah.