It Always Happens When I Am Not Looking
#ItAlwaysHappensWhenIAmNotLooking is the podcast for December 3, 2017 (1st Sunday of Advent). What do my dog, Augie, and the Second Coming have to do with each other? More than you think. The disconcerting nature of our politics and the second coming as talked about by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark have much in common. Where do we find our peace? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone.#Mark13 #SecondComing #Advent #Dog #DonaldTrump #RomanEmpire #PoliticalUpheaval #UncertainTimes
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For The Church of Saint Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/3/2017 The 1st Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 13:32-37.
Our pup, Augie, actually, I should say, “our old dog”, is a spry little guy. He is an eleven year old maltese rescue dog – we got him after he was found wandering the streets of Chicago. We love him to death. He is a calmer of anxiety, a laugh at the least expected time, a cute little guy, and very soft to pet, which means wonderful to let rest on your lap.
From time to time, he finds a depression in the ground near the fence caused by erosion from the big rains we tend to have around our house. So, one day, we let him out and were pleased that he didn’t do the “let me out, let me in” game that dogs like to play. We were just going on with our day, as if he were inside the house, and we heard the sound of his bark outside. So, we went to the back door to let him: no dog.
When we went to the front door, he was there. The good part of the story is that he came around to the front door. The bad part of the story is that we simply stopped keeping track of him because we assumed he would show up at the back door.
There is a lot of bad stuff that could have happened. He tends to run after people, maybe even people who would think he is attacking them. He could have run across the street to say hello to the kids across the way and get hit by a car. He is such a source of cute fluffiness that it would be heartbreaking if something happened to him. If something happened to him and we missed it because we were not watchful, it would be awful.
One of the ways we Christians interpret the Second Coming of Jesus is a moment we don’t want to miss. We always start our New Year at Advent looking to the end to make sense of where we are. For our work, which can seem like we are putting multiple fingers in the dike of sinfulness, it is important to keep an eye on the prize. The prize is a renewed heaven and a renewed earth. We do not want to be surprised and unprepared. We could miss out on the joy of his expectant return.
When we consider the context of this passage from the Gospel of St. Mark, we see another way in which this passage is understood: as one of comfort, relief. The context is Jesus with Peter, James, John, and Andrew on the Mount of Olives discussing the current political time. It was tumultuous at best. The Jews held Israel at the will of the Romans who oppressed any sense of autonomy by their occupied territories. There was a constant hope that the Romans could be overthrown and the Temple restored to its properly considered role in the lives of the people. The leaders were bankrupt, corrupt, and inept. Life on the streets could seem and feel like a free for all.
When leaders upend the norms of any society, there is turmoil. When the world order begins to change and a major power begins to recede in world influence and dominance, there is turmoil. With all the changes the President is making to norms and with all the people whose public careers are being destroyed by their own sexual malfeasance, with all of the constant publishing of personal angst on social media, and with all of the turmoil in life in general, it is easy for us to throw our hands up and live our lives in fear.
I have been approached more lately than ever, even at the turn of the 21st Century with the Y2K scare, and asked, “Are we going to war? What is going to happen to our lives? Are we going to be OK?” People are genuinely scared, more than I have ever seen them.
I cannot guarantee that our government will last. Governments come and go. We may just be losing power as a nation in the world. We ought to utilize government to do the most good as possible, knowing that God owns everything and is owed everything. Yet, even a person like me, who believes in big government social programs, government is not the ultimate trustworthy organization. Let me remind everyone, our faith is not in government.
Men are flooding psychologists offices asking if there is anything they have ever done that could or could not be construed as sexual harassment. They see one celebrity after another lose their careers because of what was protected predatory behavior. We, in the Church, know there is a day of reckoning for looking the other way for sexual predators. We ought not be surprised: predators use status and celebrity because status and celebrity are wrapped up in power. Our faith is not in celebrity.
It use to be that you could get out of high school and get a job. It wasn’t any job. It was a job for a company that had been in the community for years. That company’s owners lived in the community. Their children went to our schools. They attended our churches. They were part of the fabric of our community. This is not so anymore. It is very hard to find a business that is centered in our community. Let alone one that will stay in our community for longer than a profit can be turned and assests sold. Our faith is not in business.
Our faith is not in any number of things that I can mention which have changed: marriage, town centers with shops and cafes, schools in every community that are good, visiting unannounced, and more things I could point out. Any faith in creations of humanity is a faith unfounded. Our faith isn’t even in ourselves.
Our faith is in God. No matter who is in charge of a government, who is a celebrity, or what business is the next cutting edge, our faith is in God alone. When we look away from the Lord and stop keeping vigilant for his second coming, this is when we lose sight of the puppy in the back yard, the true purpose of government, true purpose of celebrity, the true purpose of business, etc.
We are surprised because we are looking for assurance in places where our assurance is not to be found. It is always when we are looking away that the dog shows up on the front porch.
This is why it is important for us to be attentive to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important for us to be in a faith community that lives out its faith actively. We should tend to Sunday Worship without fail. We should read our scriptures daily. We should pray daily for one another. We should visit one another in our homes and care for each other when we are sick. When we notice someone is missing from church, we should reach out and find out if they are OK. It may break out in a surprisingly wonderful phone call.
He will come again. We know not the time or the season. When he does, we will know if we have been attentive and looking. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian