Again and again, Jesus says that he’ll come like a thief in the night. At that time, the heavens will pass away and everything will go up in flames (2 Peter 3:10). We’re supposed to keep awake. This is something that is said again and again to the point that it’s exhausting especially when it feels like everything really is going up in flames. That’s a slight exaggeration. It’s not really but it feels like it because it’s my last week at The United Churches of Olympia. It’s my last week at this church and we had a break in. So it is that when we (or they) say “there is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
We had another break in two weeks ago. Or was it three weeks ago? They broke a window and got into the building. They stole my office computer, some other electronics and a whole bunch of personnel files. We were finally getting back to normal in the church office. We were finally feeling a little more secure. Just a little bit. And then, there was another break in. Same window. Same door. It doesn’t seem that they stole as much this time — but they made a whole lot more damage. And it will probably happen again. The staff is preparing for this fact. The members of the church are trying to accept this possibility. Precautions are being made but it may happen again, no matter how much we keep awake.
It is not a eager wakefulness. There is no excitement. There is no giddy anticipation but a resignation that there are terrible things that happen. There are people that are so desperate that this feels like their only option. They can only steal. They can only take. Because they have nothing to give and they are too terrified that there won’t be enough. It is not a fear that I know well — but it has me wondering about why God would appear in such away. Whether it’s the first or second appearing, or it’s happened even more than that, why would God want to come like a thief in the night? What does this teach us about ourselves and about God?
Does God ever come like a thief? Is this the way that God behaves? Does God bash in the windows and threaten us with identity theft? Is this what it means to be awake — that we are supposed to feel frightened and scared? Or is it just that terrible things happen.
I don’t know if God made those terrible things but I know that they happen. And when they happen, there is something to learn. There is something about people that we can learn. There is something about our world that we can learn. There is something about ourselves that we can learn. And I believe God does that. I believe God takes those terrible injustices and pains and changes them by changing us. Perhaps that is what it means to keep awake. That we have to be ready for change. Because we just might feel violated by this terrible thing — but really, it’s just change. And change is the only constant. So get used to it. To which I want to say: God, steal from someone else. I need some sleep.