St. Augustine of Hippo

Episcopal Church


“Growing in Hope: Learning to Observe the Signs of Time”

(Matthew 24:36-44)

December 1, 2019

The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre

How have you lived your life so far? Have you lived indifferent to what is happening around you or lived as if there are things you don’t control, and you should be paying attention to what is unfolding?

The disciples took Jesus aside privately and asked questions about the end times. They wanted to know “What will be the signs of the end of the age?” Jesus answered that there will be chaos and the core of family itself will be torn apart. He compared the end of times to the Flood and Noah. He predicted that mother will be taken, and daughter will be left or vice versa. Jesus invited the disciples, and by extension us, to pay attention to what is happening around us.

Does only hope suffice? Must we look beyond the signs of time and focus on being prepared for Christ’s return?

Matthew, repeating the story of Mark 13, presents a Jesus teaching moment. It is not that Matthew is telling us that a flood will be happening on the day of Jesus’ return. But Matthew is warning us that judgment in Noah’s time came in the form of an event which caught the unprepared by surprise. Jesus’ followers must not be astonished that Jesus’ return will also be an event of uncontrollable magnitude and consequences.

Hoping Jesus will return is fine but will not suffice if unprepared. When devastating hurricanes occur, although they are predicted, only those who are prepared, are better equipped to survive. The prediction is never enough to motivate all to look for shelter, many thinking that the prediction will not materialize. We all know that Jesus will return, but no one knows the day or the hour.  When we nourish the hope of Jesus’ certain return, we must continually be expecting the day to be soon. In fact, it might just be today or in a few seconds.

The danger is to let the “not knowing” lead us into unpreparedness. The season of Advent is a reminder that the Christian must remain vigilant every day at every hour. When we see nations war against nations, when lies win over the truth, when oppressive systems seem to have bought Justice, the end is near, and we need to get involved to hope and be the hope.   

To hope is not to sit and wait because the kingdom will come. We must instead become active participants in the fight against evil. Growing in Hope is to learn to share the bread of abundance and the wine of friendship. In our unbounded desert, God’s day will rise. Very soon, in silence, we all will hear Jesus’ cry. Then, beyond our doubts, beyond our fears, we await with expectation our Lord’s coming back. So that darkness never takes control of our heart, and the light of God’s words shines on our lives forever. Amen.