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1st Sunday of Advent (Ages 6-9): In The Master's Home


This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. In Advent we prepare for the feast of the light of God coming into the world. The colour for the season is purple.

People often say that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and that Advent is a time to prepare for his birth. But we have to wonder if that is not quite all. When we listen to the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells a parable about preparing, but it does not seem to be about a birth:

“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

So this is interesting. A man leaves his home and puts the people who work for him in charge of the home. In the Bible these people are called "slaves." Slaves own nothing. All that they haveeven their livesbelong to their master. Everything they have is gift from him. The Master in this parable entrusts his home to the slaves. We have heard about entrusting before. We know this means the Master believes that these people are good enough for the gift of caring for his home.

He gives each of the people a particular task. Each one has a particular job to do. One of them keeps watch at the door. We wonder what the other people do. What other things must be done to take care of a home?

Jesus continues:

Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn—or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.

Hang on. Keep awake? Jesus lists four times of the night, from evening when the light fades away, until dawn when it creeps back again. Does Jesus mean that the slaves have to stay awake all night long?

That does not seem to make sense. Only one of the slavesthe doorkeeperis supposed to be on the watch. What particular tasks need to be done at night? Even slaves need to sleep! If the Master comes back at night, should he not expect to find the slaves asleep? So we have to wonder if Jesus means something more. He tells a parable after all. Parables always show us something more.

When Jesus says, "Keep awake," he uses a Greek word: γρηγορεῖτε (pronounced "gri-gor-i-tay") It means "to keep awake" or "to keep watch." To keep watch means to pay attention, to be alert and focused. Jesus seems to say, "Keep focused!" The slaves have tasks to do and they need to continue doing them. They can sleep, of course, but when they wake, they need to keep on task. It would not be a pleasant surprise to have the Master arrive and find the home a disaster! But if they keep on task, keep caring for his home, what a wonderful surprise they will have when he arrives home.

“And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

At the end of the parable, Jesus is pretty clear. What he says to the slaves of the Master's home, he says to us all. This tells us some pretty important things, does it not?

If we are the slaves, we have each been given a particular task to do.

If we are the slaves, the Master believes we are good enough to look after his home.

And if we are the slaves, we have been given an even greater gift:

We live in the Master's home.

This Advent, perhaps we can stop and enjoy that,

each evening as we go to sleep

and again

each dawn as we awake.

We are living in the Master's home. 

And as we enjoy this good news we can whisper this prayer of preparation...

What particular task have you given me?

Photo by Martin Krchnacek on Unsplash

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