The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!
Mark 13:34-37 NLT
In the ancient world, the watchman played a critical role. In the countryside, high stone towers were build in the vineyards and fields. From atop these towers, as the harvest approached, a watchman would survey the surrounding fields or vineyards and watch for animals or thieves who might destroy or steal the crops planted around them. The watchman was responsible for the food supply of the townspeople. Likewise, the cities, such as Jerusalem, were surrounded by a high, thick wall. From atop the wall the watchmen could watch over the approach to the city. From their high vantage point they would be able to see in the distance and warn the people inside. If enemy armies were approaching the city the watchman would sound an alarm and the gates to the city would be secured as the inhabitants prepared for battle.
It is no wonder then, that scripture uses the image of a watchman to describe the prophets who were to look to the approaching future, and warn the people of what was to come if they continued in their wicked ways. In the New Testament, however Jesus charges all of His followers to keep watch, this time for His return. In today's scripture, as in yesterday's, Jesus warns His listeners that no one knows when that time will come, so they must remain vigilant and prepare. This is the image we bring to Advent. We are to watch and be prepared for that day when Jesus Himself returns. So even as we prepare our homes and surroundings to commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus long ago, we are to mend our own ways and prepare our hearts for that time when He returns. Keep watch!
Holy God, we love You and offer all our praise to You. As we find ourselves in this Advent time of waiting and watching, remind us, we pray, that even as we wait with anticipation for a day of celebration of the birth of Jesus, in a larger way, we also await the day You will return and every knee shall bow every tongue declare allegiance. Stir in our hearts O Lord, a strong desire for You that outweighs our desires for lesser things of this world. Show us we pray, what You would have us do in this time of waiting and longing for Your presence. Help us to be vigilant and keep watch so that our own hearts are prepared for Your arrival no matter when that happens. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!