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, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matt. 24:38-39, NRSV)
It’s been almost a year since I was married. 334 days to be exact. I had a bit of a harrowing experience actually getting to my wedding. Now I know one isn’t supposed to expect everything to go particularly perfect when preparing for a wedding, but there was a time when I was standing in the St. Louis airport wondering if I were somehow cast in a modern retelling of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
There was flooding, closed bridges, delayed flights, canceled flights, a ticket agent telling me there were no flights for 2 days, frantic cell phones calls, declarations of driving through the night (through an ice storm mind you), a return to the same ticket agent, begging and pleading, and finally a seat on a flight the next day with a voucher to stay at a hotel.
I got to DFW a day later than when I was expecting to, but the joy I experienced once I landed in Texas was ineffable. The surprise I felt was akin to my throat being shoved into the lowest pits of my stomach and wrenched a good couple times. I was surprised, even though I was expecting something to go wrong (as everyone told me I should.)
I was reminded of this story and the idea of still being surprised when you were expecting something to happen when I read Jesus’ description of the time of Noah and the coming of the Son of Man. People were doing their everyday thing: having dinner with the family, going to happy hour with friends, celebrating unions, undoubtedly working their job.
It seems as if we are once again in the days of Noah, going about our business as if there were no consequences or ramifications for what we do. There is no expectation of anything to change. I mean, how else does a phrase like #YOLO proliferate into the collective subconscious of a society?
It’s as if we have forgotten Christmas serves as a reminder that God stretched through time and space to be with us once. The love of God was made manifest in a human, in Jesus. The reason we read this text at the beginning of Advent is because it reminds us to be watchful and have the expectation that God will not abandon us. “Advent is the season to assume a humble posture in the present while holding out hope for the future.” (Jason Robertson, “Matthew 24:36-44” http://www.aplainaccount.org)
So go about your day. Mow that lawn. Rake those leaves. Fill that coffee. Type those emails. Change those diapers. Take those pills. Make that dinner. Marry that beautiful husband. But do so remembering that we are waiting and watching for something more. We live in a now, but not yet time, peering for when God’s love will be made manifest once again.
Thanks be to God.