WSAM 12 1 13 Sermon Notes
Title: Be Ready
Text: Matthew 24:36-44
Preaching Text: Matthew 24:44
Opening: Top Ten Things you might not have thought to be thankful for
10. Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. It gives you something to forward to.
9. Be thankful when you don’t know something. It gives you the opportunity to learn.
8. Be thankful for the difficult times. They give you an opportunity to grow.
7. Be thankful for your limitations. They offer you opportunities for improvement.
6. Be thankful for each new challenge. They can build your strength and character.
5. Be thankful for your mistakes. They can teach you valuable lessons.
4. Be thankful when you’re tired and weary. It means you’ve given your all.
3. Be thankful for setbacks. They offer the rich fulfillment that comes from overcoming them.
2. Be thankful for your troubles. They can teach you to turn negatives into positives.
1. Be thankful for those around you. They make your world bigger than just you.
Matthew 24:36-44 (NRSV)
36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
From this Scripture I would like for us to focus on two words found there: Be Ready.
The Advent season is about “Be ready. Christmas is about Be Ready too. I don’t know about you, But I’ve already begun getting ready by putting up Christmas lights. That’s part of getting ready for Christmas.
Jenny and I have already been purchasing Christmas gifts. We’re getting ready.
What does it mean to be ready?
Now, this Scripture is not about getting ready for Christmas, but it is about getting ready. It’s telling us to “Be ready.” To be ready for the end of the age, the advent of Christ, for the coming of Christ.
So, what does it mean to “be ready?” To be ready for anything? Being ready has something to do with “getting ready” It’s about doing something different, doing something that we weren’t doing before. But we’re now we doing this in order to … be ready.
How you get ready depends on what you’re getting ready for. Getting ready to eat includes washing your hands. Getting ready to go out on a date includes putting on your best. Getting ready to do your taxes, includes gathering papers and receipts.
In this southern culture I’ve learned a curious phrase: “fixing to.” It’s the southern way of getting ready. Getting ready and fixing to are the same thing.
Jenny once asked my dad if he was fixing to mow. (His head was in the shed and he was pulling out the lawn mower.) My dad, a yankee in her parlance, didn’t understand what she was asking. So, she explained that fixing to mow meant getting ready to cut the grass. He understood getting ready.
How you get ready to eat, or to go on date, or to do you taxes, or to cut the grass are all somewhat different, and so each takes a different kind of getting ready.
Being ready means you’ve spent time getting ready. Generally, you’ve spent that time so that the times comes you’ll be ready.
Now the Christmas story includes lots of stories of people “getting ready for a baby.” So, how do you get ready for a baby?
For Jenny and me… we found ourselves doing what many of our friends had done: purhcasing a house, preparing a nursery, preparing a room by painting and picking out colors, purchasing things you think you’ll need.
And then, you hope. You hope that all will go well with the birth. You hope that you will be ready when the time comes. When you know a new born baby is on the way to your house, you do your best to be ready for the arrival of the baby.
The Advent season that we begin today is about getting ready, so that we’ll be ready for the coming of Christ. In this Christmas season we tend to focus on getting ready for Christmas stuff. We do seasonal things like putting up lights and purchasing gifts. And… for many of us … we entertain thought of the coming of the baby to the manger in Bethlehem. We’re getting ready for the birth of Jesus.
The Advent message is about being ready for Christ’s coming, but it’s more than Christ’s birth only. It’s also about Christ’ coming. And not only 2000 years ago, it’s about getting ready for Christ’s coming into our world and to us today here and now. Advent is meant to help us keep from rushing to the manger. That’s what we church folks tend to during this season of Christmas. It’s what our culture has taught us. It’s all about the baby. But if we’re not careful, we’ll celebrate the birth but not the life and the death and the resurrection that the Advent season is meant to help us think about, be prepared for, get ready for. be ready for.
This rush to the manger was the way many of us were reared. It’s the way our church has long celebrated this season. Funny though, that manyo f us fuss about how the world outside the Church gets ready for Christmas. We fuss about the Christmas lights that go up too soon at the mall. We’ve not finished eating all of the Trick or Treat candy. We’ve got leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in the ‘fridge, and now we’ve got Christmas lights up. We’re at the mall purchasing gifts.
And yet… I’m wondering if we’re getting ready for this season? Are we ready for Jesus to come to us? This Scripture from Matthew is telling us not only to get ready but to be ready. But the question is…How do you do that?
It’s kind of like the first time Christ came as a baby in Bethlehem, people then, like people now, needed to get ready. We need to get ready, to be ready for Christ’s coming to us. But not just getting ready for Christ’s birth, not just getting ready for Christmas, that’s the rush to the manger. We need to get ready for Jesus’ coming to us –to us even today, even today in this moment. To get ready so that we’ll be ready for the coming of Christ, the Advent.
So… let’s take a moment and think and pray about what we need to think and pray about in order to get ready.
First, let’s thank about what this Scripture is not about. It’s not about managing your riches so that you have something to share at Christmas. It’s not about altruistic giving in which you share which often costs you little. It’s not about living for only for end-times or end of life goals at the expense of a live here-and-now and our daily response to God’s goodness, the God who imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
It’s not about living with the fear of all the years nor solely about the end of our lives, about where we’ll end up after life. But neither is it about ignoring end of life issues either. It’s not about naming a time of the coming of the Lord, which was what some were asking Jesus about in the context of this Scripture. “When will the end of time come?” they asked. “When do we need to be ready?”
It’s not about ignoring that the Lord will come for us all one day, sooner for some than others. It’s not about failing to live life with hope that pushes against the “fears of all the years,” the hope which is met in the coming of Christ to hearts who are ready to receive Him.
We just need to be fixin’ to be ready. This Scripture in Mathew 24, like Advent, is about reminding us that we need to be about fixing to be ready, so that we’ll be ready to receive the One God has sent to us. This Scripture is about living in anticipation, anticipation that life is short and could end at any time. And no is exempt from that. All of us young and old alike need to prepare for that. We need to “be ready.”
We know when Christmas is this year. This year it’s going to fall on Dec 25 … again. I’m sure of it. I think most of us are already getting ready for it.
But when is Jesus coming? Are we getting ready for that? That’s the question this Scripture is asking us today. But how do you get ready? We sang about it already. So, here this phrase one more time:
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
In Matthew 24 we read that some once asked Jesus about signs of the end of the age. Jesus answered that no one knows when that will be, and then he gave them this great answer: “Be ready.”
And today, the Word of God says to us, as Jesus said to them, we should be ready.
Just like we get ready for Christmas we need to get ready in order to be ready for Christ’s coming.
And Christ comes to us today, here and now, in this moment.
Are you ready to receive him? Get ready.
The gifts of the bread and the cup are God’s gifts to us. They are gifts of life for us, so that we might have life, so that we might celebrate the life of Christ in us. Are you ready to receive this gifts, meekly?
How do you get ready? It’s with meekness. That’s not weakness. It means yielding to God, so that we can receive what God means to give to us. To give us life. Are you ready to yield your life to Christ in order to let him enter into your life? It’s the only way that we can be ready.
There are no lights to be hung. There’s no gift we can buy, not even any carols to be sung that will get us ready. It’s only in yielding our lives to God and receiving Christ who enters into our life that allows us to say, “We’re ready!”
Let’s get ready. Let’s be ready. Let’s pray.