One verse from our Gospel reading, Matthew 24:42… Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Thus far our text.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Does anyone remember the game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? It was a computer game that came out in 1985, and the goal of the game was to use audio and visual clues to find out where in the world certain villains were at so you could find and arrest them, and eventually catch Carmen Sandiego. I loved the game because it was not only fun, you learned a lot of geography and history as you played it.

This morning we are going to play a similar ‘game’: Where in the world is Jesus the Christ? The goal of the game is to learn something, including eschatology and “His story.” Anyone know what eschatology is? It is the study or theology of the end times.
As many of you may know by now, I do not like to spend a lot of time and energy focusing on end time’s prophecies. The books of Daniel and Revelation are two of my least favorite parts of the Bible, partly because so much of the imagery is so bizarre I get a headache trying to figure out what they mean and how it applies to my life, our lives. 
I have also observed over the years many who have claimed to have it all figured out, made brave predictions, and have convinced many people that the end was imminent, only to have their predictions prove to be wrong. To Jesus’ statement "But about that day and hour no one knows” many have added two more words “except me.” Honestly I believe that a lot of time has been wasted and a lot of people have been misled.
However, it would be quite wrong on my part to go to the other extreme and ignore eschatology altogether. I wouldn’t get away with it anyway as the texts for Advent every year deal with the second coming of Christ. So, we are going to do some eschatology this morning as we play the game, “Where in the world is Jesus the Christ?”

Actually, this is not a game. It is life. Discovering where in the world is Jesus the Christ can be a matter of life and death. And so we are going to come at this from a couple of angles. First of all, we are going to consider the literal answer to the question. In other words, where do we find Jesus? Secondly, we are going to spend a few minutes answering the question, “Where in the world is Jesus the Christ?” as in what in the world is taking Him so long? I thought we were supposed to believe that He was returning soon! When will His kingdom come?

So, first… where’s Jesus right now? Where can we find Him? How would you answer that? … + In our hearts. + On the altar? (sacrament) + In the Scriptures. + 2 or 3 are gathered.
Where is the physical “body” of Christ? + Right hand of the Father + The Church

Okay. So here is how we are going to segue to the second question: What is taking Jesus so long to return? Is that even a legitimate question? Didn’t we just agree Jesus is with us here and now, everywhere and always? Didn’t he promise to be with us to the end of the age? If that’s true, why do we even talk about his “second” coming? He hasn’t gone anywhere, has he?

The truth is this talk about the second coming of Christ can really get us off track. The real question is: How does Christ’s kingdom come, and when will His kingdom fully come? 
Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom. This takes us to yet another paradox of sorts. When Jesus walked the earth in human form, He often spoke of the coming of the new Kingdom. The word “Kingdom” appears 114 times in the 4 Gospels. That’s why Jesus had come, to establish and expand the true Kingdom of God on earth. And yet we continue to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” The Kingdom of God is, at the same time, already here and not yet here. Confused?

Let’s seek some clarity by shifting our focus from the coming of Christ to the coming of the Kingdom of God. Here is what one commentator had to say about this “Kingdom” theme and our text: Matthew has an end-time (apocalyptic) orientation, believing that history is divided into two ages -- a present, evil age that God would soon replace with a new age (often called the realm of God or the realm of heaven). The old age is marked by the presence of Satan and the demons, and by idolatry, sin, injustice, exploitation, sickness, enmity between nature and humankind, violence, and death. The new age will be characterized by the complete rule of God and the angels, and by authentic worship, forgiveness, mutual support, health, blessing between nature and humankind, and eternal life.

For Matthew, God is acting through Jesus Christ to effect the change. The birth, life, and resurrection are the first phase of the transformation, with the complete manifestation arriving with the second coming. Meanwhile, Matthew’s community lives in a conflict zone between the ages. God calls the community to follow the instruction and model of Jesus. Some scholars affirm that many in Matthew’s congregation were losing confidence in the coming of the Realm. The apocalypse was delayed. Their witness was fading. Matthew wrote to encourage them to continue.

So, the Kingdom of God has already come, but is not yet complete. There is still a lot of very important work to do. As long as the realm of the old age has not completely been done away with, and the Kingdom of God has not completely come, then we have a very important mission: to both strengthen and extend the Kingdom of God.

A key outcome of all of this is to have a sense of urgency regarding our mission. We’re going to hear that in our weekly texts throughout Advent. We heard it in today’s text, where Jesus said “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. … Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” In other words, live everyday as if it is going to be the last day. It might well be the last day for any of us individually or all of us collectively.

Before we finish, we must briefly review what living that way looks like, what living with a sense of urgency for mission and ministry means, what it means to be ready. It’s easy to pray “Thy kingdom come,” but it’s not in the least bit easy to be part of God’s answer to that prayer, to serve as the means through which God’s Kingdom is both strengthened and extended. That can be very challenging work.

What it all boils down to is truly loving people… loving people the way that Jesus loves them. This involves caring and compassion, sacrifice and service. It involves having the mind of Christ we heard about last week, a mindset of looking not to our own interests, but to the interests of others. It means communicating the love and grace of God BOTH in our actions and our words.
This urgent work is of utmost importance. May God bless us in our mission together. Amen.

   April 2019   
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