Watching for Jesus

Zion’s Hill United Methodist Church November 27, 2022

John I. Carney
12 min readNov 27, 2022


An advent wreath with the first candle lit.
Micha L. Rieser, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Matthew 24:36–44 (CEB)

“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows. As it was in the time of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Human One. In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. They didn’t know what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. The coming of the Human One will be like that. At that time there will be two men in the field. One will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left. Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming. But you understand that if the head of the house knew at what time the thief would come, he would keep alert and wouldn’t allow the thief to break into his house. Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.”

This is the first Sunday of Advent, the season when we anticipate the coming of Christ. There are several different ways you can look at that. In one sense, of course, we’re “anticipating” an event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. We are trying to put ourselves into the mindset of Mary or Joseph or the Wise Men or the people of Judaea who were waiting for a Messiah to save them. What were they expecting? How did they feel about this remarkable baby?

But that’s not the only meaning of Advent. Advent is also about our anticipation of Christ in our own lives, and about our anticipation of Christ coming again. And it’s that last sense of Advent that drives this week’s lectionary passages.

Just a few weeks ago, I was lay speaking at a church up in Rockvale and the Lectionary passages for that week had to do with the end times. I think, and I told them up in Rockvale, that a lot of us get a little too wrapped up in the details of the end times. We misuse and abuse Bible verses, and twist them around, and then claim we know exactly when and how it’s going to happen.

I told the folks in Rockvale that the United Methodist Church website has a page about the Second Coming. We believe in the Second Coming. It’s in the…



John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at