‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’
I admit to days when my home office is cluttered, there’s no milk in the fridge, and there isn’t a tidy room for receiving friends, yet alone someone in authority. So, when Jesus paints this picture of servants or slaves who have done all their chores, and now, with everything in order wait quietly for their master to come home, I feel a twinge of guilt. How might this insight into first century domesticity speak to disciples 2,000 years later?
Perhaps it’s not about housework! Perhaps there have been fewer changes than we think…
Today if we are going away, we often ask someone reliable to pick up the post and check all is well – we don’t expect to return to chaos, and the master of this first Century house was just the same – as was Jesus. As lord and master, Jesus asked his friends to look after the place when he’d gone.
Cast your mind back to yesterday’s reading, Jesus urged his friends to “strive for [God’s] kingdom”; a message that hasn’t changed over the centuries. Jesus still calls us in the twenty first Century to strive for God’s kingdom; building a world of caring, hospitality, inclusivity, justice, compassion, forgiveness, serving and celebrating diversity.
Right now, God’s kingdom feels a long way away, and the news as I write is filled with chaos and greed, division and hurt, yet as disciples, we are still called to share those kingdom values. It’s up to us to keep trying – Jesus didn’t say it was going to be easy.
Eventually the world will be turned upside down; the master turned servant in this passage reminds us of Jesus washing the feet of his friends. Thieves will be foiled because we’re alert and awake.
Today, Jesus trusts us, his disciples to look after the world, to strive for the kingdom, loving, serving and ready for the unexpected.
Are we ready?
Lord, We pray that you will help us to live or lives in such a way that we are always ready to receive you. Be with us as we strive to bring your kingdom values to a world that has largely forgotten to care for each other. Amen
Linda Rayner is an elder at Bramhall URC and also the URC Coordinator for fresh expressions of Church