Thursday, December 3 —by Sarah Jones

Mark 13:24-37:
“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. Watch out! Stay alert!” 

Over this summer, I interned as a chaplain at Rush Medical Center. During those three months, I had many conversations with patients that will stick with me for the rest of my life. One of these was on the evening I met Derrick*, who was waiting for heart surgery. Like many folks preparing for a major procedure, Derrick was nervous about potential complications. This surprised him because he had already faced death — he was a survivor of multiple instances of gun violence in his younger years — but he had never felt this sense of dread before. As we talked, he realized that the problem was that he didn’t know what was going to happen; he didn’t know whether he needed to prepare to recover or prepare to die. I offered this scripture, hoping that he would find comfort in that only God knows what the future might hold. Derrick responded, “That’s right. If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”

Derrick’s interpretation of the scripture stuck with me.  It’s an aphorism whose origin I cannot trace, one of those saying that floats around the cultural ether and holds a lot more wisdom than we give it credit for. It means that waiting isn’t passive. Jesus’ message in Mark 13 is an invitation to prepare, to train, to cultivate ourselves so that we are ready to receive and participate in God’s transformation of the world.

In 2020, I have very specific ideas of what I am waiting for God to do, what I am hoping for. There are systems I want dismantled, communities I want (re)built, personal growth I want to realize. But am I actually ready for God’s revelation? Am I prepared to take up the call? And if not, what do I need to do to get, and stay, ready?

All Knowing God, give me clarity of vision and purpose. May I be so inspired by your vision for myself and the world that I take on the work of preparation for Christ’s arrival.    

*Name has been changed