"Wait." You can imagine how many times I heard that growing up as my dad tried to enforce his rule that the Christmas tree would not go up until Christmas Eve. He was holding on to the truth that the Christmas season starts on December 25th - that's when the 12 days of Christmas begin, so that's when we would start. "Before then," he would say, "It's Advent. So wait."
That's what this season of the church year called Advent is all about. It makes us remember what we are waiting for - Jesus' coming. Yes, we are preparing to celebrate his birth in the manger, but even more, we're waiting for him to come back to take us to be with him. But, just like the kids waiting for Christmas, waiting is hard. What makes it even harder is that we don't know exactly when it will be. Three times in our text, Jesus makes that point. This is verse 44: "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
But we definitely want to be ready, because all the signs Jesus tells us to look for can now be clearly seen in our world. He is coming soon. Now we just have to wait for when that happens. And as we do, Jesus warns us not to lose focus. He realizes that that is an easy thing to do, especially with all the distractions around us. So the warning he gives us is pretty stern - the flood
You see, people then had the warnings too - God's threat, this huge boat being built on dry land, Noah's testimony. But, life seemed too important for any of that to be real. And so, as our text says, people were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage - all important things - but they had made them too important. And before they knew it, their dead bodies were floating in that flood water and their souls agonizing in hell.
In the same way, Jesus says, those same everyday things will be happening at the coming of the son of man. So he says, just make sure your heart is ready. That's the point of his description of two men in the field, one taken, the other "sent away" (a literal translation of the word there); two women preparing the grain in the kitchen, one taken, the other "sent away." Those words find greater explanation in the next chapter when Jesus describes the public display, where he says to the believers, "Come" and to the unbelievers, "Depart." The people were doing the very same things, but it's never been about actions with our God. It's about the heart.
So where is your heart as you prepare for Christmas, as you prepare for our Savior's second coming? We'd have no excuse if we got so caught up in society's stuff that we forgot about why we're really here. That's why Jesus came in the first place, born in that manger, born into our world to bridge the gap between divinity and humanity - not to make excuses for us, but answers - to take on himself all of our failures and give us everything we could never have made happen. This Savior, who was born into our world to pay our price with his blood and declare our victory with his resurrection, is the same one that is coming back. And focusing and refocusing on that is what makes us ready.
As we ponder what this Christmas birth means for us, our hearts won't be able to help but get excited about his coming again - because we, with ready hearts, will be taken to be with our God forever. Until then, "Wait" in Christ.