35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ Mark 13:35-37
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception, The future futureless, before the morning watch When time stops and time is never ending; And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning, Clangs The bell.
~T.S. Eliot from “The Dry Salvages”
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130: 5-6 from a Song of Ascents
We can tend to suffer from Attention Deficit when it comes to waiting and watching for the Lord. Our focus wanders as we want what we want when we want it. Sitting in worshipful watching is hard work for us when all we can think about is recess or a nap.
He must not catch us sleeping. We must keep our eyes wide open to not miss His coming.
May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand. He prepares me with parable.
I waited. I don’t know for what. Sometimes I’d sit so long the sun would sink, a fiery stare blinking shut beneath the horizon, and the drooping electric wires would borrow the dark until the dark seeped back into the sky. And when stars
surfaced like needles piercing through velvet, I’d hold myself back just a moment more. What made me feel watched in the naked field? I was paying close attention and could discern only a begging to be cloaked and a begging to be released. ~Jennifer Grotz from “The Field”
As I age I observe the world in a new way,
my eyes scanning for the unnoticed and plain,
not just the dramatic and majestic,
sometimes just sitting still as witness to each moment.
I preserve that which will keep for another day,
like a jar of canned peaches in my root cellar,
so I won’t forget, and in a darker time be cloaked once again
when I taste its sweetness.
… if you ran, time ran. You yelled and screamed and raced and rolled and tumbled and all of a sudden the sun was gone and the whistle was blowing and you were on your long way home to supper. When you weren’t looking, the sun got around behind you! The only way to keep things slow was to watch everything and do nothing! You could stretch a day to three days, sure, just by watching! ~Ray Bradbury from Dandelion Wine
This is a time to slow down and just watch, in order to stretch the days out as long as possible. I have a tendency to race through the hours given to me, heedless of the sun settling low behind me surrendering the day to the advancing march of darkness.
So I choose for now to be observer and recorder rather than runner and racer, each moment preserved like so many jars of sweet jam on a pantry shelf. The sun may be setting, but it is taking its time.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.
The shepherds weren’t ready, yet they kept watch around the clock because it was their job to do so. They were understandably terrified at the unexpected announcement coming out of the blue. Interpreting glory-filled praise from a heavenly host was definitely not in their job description.
We, like the shepherds, are to be watching and prepared for the second advent. It is in our job description–even in the middle of the night, we are to be poised to answer the knock on the door in an instant, in order to joyfully welcome Him back. The message clearly is: be ready. Keep watch.
We’re keeping the lights on for You.
Christ is the sun, and all the watches of our lives should be set by the dial of his motion.