Advent’s Thief

Jesus is coming as a thief in the night – “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven…” (Matthew 24:36)

“But how the heck can you be ready for something you don’t know is coming? How can we be ready for the unexpected? Well, we can’t.

“So maybe being awake and alert and expectant—all themes of Advent—has nothing to do with knowing or certainty or prediction, but has a lot to do with being in a state of unknowing. My instinct is always to use my knowingness—my certainty I’m right….—as a sort of loss-prevention program, a system by which I protect myself from the unknown and the unexpected. Which works approximately none of the time.

     “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

“Here’s the thing; like the house owner, knowing what to look for as a way of avoiding being robbed is only advantageous if we assume being robbed is a bad thing. But perhaps having an unknowing brain allows us to be taken unaware by the grace of God, which is like a thief in the night. Maybe it’s good news that Jesus has been staking the joint and there will be a break-in. The promise of Advent is that in the absence of knowing everything, we get robbed. There was and is and will be a break-in because God is not interested in our loss-prevention programs but in saving us from ourselves and saving us from our culture and saving us even from our certainties about God’s story itself.

“This holy thief wants to steal from us, and maybe that is literal and metaphoric at the same time. Perhaps, during Advent, a season with pornographic levels of consumption in which our credit card debts rise and our waistbands expand, the idea that Jesus wants to break in and jack some of our stuff is really good news. There’s just a whole lot of crap in my house—again, both literally and metaphorically—that I could well do without.”

I pray that we are caught unaware by the grace of God this Advent—that this thief be allowed to rip into our houses, and steal from us the hurts, fears, jealousy and wants, and replace these with love, peace, and Joy.

Scripture from NIV; other all other quotations from Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Copyright 2015, Crown Publishing/Convergent Books.

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