1st Sunday of Advent (Ages 9-12): Welcome, Thief!
(You could begin by reading the scripture passage. Better yet, ask someone to read it to you. The Word of God is meant to be heard.)
This Sunday we begin the season of Advent. It is a time of preparing for the feast of God coming into the world as one of us. God, who knows what it means to be cold and hungry, who knows what it is like to dance and play sports, to laugh with friends, to be nervous before a test. God, who knows us. It is a good feast. To prepare, we change the colour of the season to purple.
We notice that the reading today is from chapter 24 of Matthew, towards the end of Jesus' life on earth. He speaks about the time when he comes again. We are not reading about his first coming in Bethlehem, but about his second.
Jesus has already come into the world as a little baby and lived among us.
He has already died and is risen, never to die again.
He has already redeemed the world; we live in the time of Redemption.
But the world is not yet as God wants it. There is still suffering and pain, sickness and death. There is still sin. It is not yet Parousia. There is still work yet for us to do.
But when will this be? Jesus says,
But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
No one knows. Not even Jesus. We are not meant to know when. We can think about Parousia and the fullness of the Kingdom of God. We can work to make that time now. Or not.
But understand this: 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. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
A strange image, is it not? Jesus—a thief stealing into a house! That must wake up disciples who are dozing! A good contrast to make people listen.
Be ready, Jesus says, because we do not know when to expect God at our door. In other words, this is the time to build our relationship with God. This is the time to work with God to build the kingdom. In Advent, we remind ourselves that we do matters, and the time to do it is now.
Okay, got it. We can all go home now 😉
The more we think about this image, though, the more we wonder...
If the owner had known when the thief was coming, he would have protected the house from invasion. He would have said, "These things are mine, you may not steal in here."
But Jesus is the one who is coming. Jesus is the thief! Do we not want him to break into our homes? Do we not want him here with us? Is Jesus saying that if we knew when, we would try to stop him???
We all have a tendency to divide our time into different boxes.
A time for friends. A time for sports. A time for watching YouTube. A time for family. A time for God.
Different boxes, different homes for different things.
Maybe Jesus the thief tries to steal into all of these things. Maybe he climbs through the window to be with us when we are with our friends. Maybe he steals onto the court or field or ice to play sports with us. Maybe he sneaks in beside us as we search the Internet.
And as our families play and pray, eat and laugh, struggle and fight, Jesus is—unexpectedly, maybe even uninvited—right there with us, living every moment with us. A little taste of Parousia here today.
Maybe it is best that we do not know when and how he comes so we do not lock the doors and windows on him.