(This is the second in a series of posts from a message delivered November 27, 2016. The texts were Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13: 11-14, and Matthew 23: 37-44.)
Nancy’s dad is in assisted living. They don’t allow dogs. Which means that his dog is in assisted living, too. She’s living with us. Jude, that’s the dog’s name, doesn’t hear well. Which means that we can come into the house, put away groceries, do all sorts of things. And the dog sleeps. She’s unaware.
She’s a terrible watchdog.
After you wake up, you keep watch. You stand guard. You look for the coming of the king. You watch for signs so you can respond.
In Matthew 23, Jesus talks about the thief who shows up when no one is watching. Jesus also talks about wedding attendants waiting for the groom to show up. He talks about servants waiting for the master to show up after a long trip. He talks about farmers not waiting for the landlord to come.
He talks about people being shocked because they weren’t paying attention.
Chaplains keep watch.
We carry a pager. We carry a phone. We walk through the building. We listen for the buzzing that indicates an emergency. We listen for tone of voice. If we’ve walked into your room, we may have said something like, “How’s it going?”
On one hand, that a silly question. If it was going well, you wouldn’t be in the hospital. But it’s really a filtering kind of question. We know that your response to a silly question is going to help us figure out the next question, the next listening, the next offer of help.
Isaiah and Jesus and Paul are inviting a watchfulness, an awareness that something better is coming, an anticipation that something worse may happen first. All of them are aware that there is pain and conflict and mistrust. There is no place for a message of nations at peace if it weren’t evident that there are nations at war.
But this isn’t a paranoid, weapons up watching. Sometimes it’s the watching of the gardener for the first sign of seeds, the watching of the family member for the first stirring after the surgery.
Keep watching, aware that something amazing is coming in the middle of the crud.
Tomorrow is the first of December. For the following 25 days, we’ll be going back to someone I found at the mall last year, Saint John of the Mall. Some of the posts are reruns, some of them are new. I hope you’ll follow along. And if you aren’t getting these posts by email, I invite you to join those of us who do.