Our Sister Phoebe, a Deacon

Theological musings inspired by the Spirit and totally Ellen…

>Watching and Waiting . . .

>I had a dog named Sammy when I was a teenager – he was a mutt, a scraggly mix of Australian shepherd and Samoyed, Huskie and Collie breeds, and the sweetest friend a girl could have. My mother brought him home one night, hidden in the bundle of groceries and files from work. She put him on the kitchen floor and said, “He’s an early birthday present, Ellen. Now, could you clean up the mess he made in the back seat of the car?”

I loved that dog as much as I loved my mother, who died several months after she gave him to me. Sammy loved her too. Every night after Mom’s death, Sammy would stop whatever he was doing (usually scratching) and sit in front of the door leading from the kitchen to the garage. He’d sit and wait, tail scraping the tiled floor, once in a while he’d make a start and yelp, and after a time, he’d start to howl. This continued for a month. Finally, Sammy gave up and went back to his familiar routines.

I thought of Sammy as I read this past Sunday’s Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent, a time of watching and waiting. In the scripture from Matthew 24 at verses 37 through 44, Jesus instructs his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the coming of the Son of Man and how important it is to be vigilant and watch for the signs of His arrival.

No one knows when Christ will return; Paul and his generation thought it was imminent and they looked forward to the end time, preparing for eternal life while toiling in this one.

Isn’t that how it is today?

We don’t know if Jesus will come next Tuesday afternoon at three o’clock, but we musn’t be caught unaware – not like the tee shirt slogan, “Jesus is coming, everybody look busy!” but truly be attentive to our spiritual lives and our working life through the Gospel. Being mindful of what we are called to do, thinking and praying through every step we take on our journeys, prepares us for the moment when he does arrive and asks each of us, “Give me an account of your life; have you listened to my words? Have you talked the talk and walked the walk that I gave you?” and be able to say “Yes!”

So where does Sammy fit in all this?

As I mentioned, Sammy eventually gave up when Mom didn’t come through the garage door with a sack of groceries and a bundle of case files. When Jesus doesn’t show up at our doors at 5:30 p.m., we shouldn’t dispair. Didn’t he say we won’t know the hour or the day? As people of faith, we should live every day as if it is the last, and be as generous with our love and compassion, with the ministries bestowed on us, as if our lives depend on it, because after all, our eternal lives do.

Mom used to light a candle in Advent and put in the window. She said, she was keeping a light on for Jesus.

She didn’t know when He was coming, but she was waiting.

As we all should do.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord,


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