‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ [Mark 13:32-37]
It was impossible for me to hear this passage this morning in church without thinking about the current hashtag being used in social media, #staywoke. I'm not always savvy about how and where these things begin, but it appears to be in reference to the debacle in Ferguson, Missouri, and how the shooting of Michael Brown wakes us up again. It is an imperative to not fall asleep again, a cry about the the importance of vigilance. (It has also been misused and abused by some would-be wits out there, but if you look it up on Twitter, just be aware that some people are not on board with this. I started to say some people need to be ignored, but that's sort of like falling asleep again, no?)
It's the first Sunday in Advent, the season of watching, waiting, expecting, dreading . . . We like to think of it as the season preparing us for the baby Jesus, meek and mild, but we also like to fool ourselves. Yes, we are waiting for our Savior. Yes, we are waiting for the Christ to come and set us free. We don't do very well with expecting the Christ to also set free those other people over there, the ones we maybe don't like so much or maybe we just don't think deserve to be free as much as we deserve to be free.
The dreadful thing about this Christ is that there is no freedom in him until all are free.
I admit, I have a hard time even imagining what that could possibly mean or look like, but I believe it is true. And while I can probably run down a few ways that I am bound and chained and restricted, stepping outside of my circumstance now and then I find there are surprising ways that other people are chained, ways that other people are restricted that I've never imagined.
Worse, there are ways that others are bound that benefits me.
The Reign of God breaks in when that system is broken.
Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook, "All change is perceived as loss." I clicked "like" and pondered it longer than most Facebook status updates. The Reign of God breaking into the world, into our systems and our social norms, will find some people losing. Not lost, but losing in ways that right now probably seem unlikely and afterwards inconsequential. Power, wealth, status . . . some will lose these things when the Reign of God breaks in. But none will be lost.
The thing about the Reign of God, I've come to believe over the years, is that it is not a one-time, end-times sort of scenario. It is happening right now, right here. We have to repent of our power-weatlh-status hunger and see the abundance that we all can share. We have to stay awake and see the ways the humble power of the Incarnate God moves among us. We have to stay awake, #staywoke, to see where our loss is our salvation, and the salvation of others.