Advent Riffs, First Sunday: Stay Awake

Climate change protest

Published under Creative Commons license

Stay awake, Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading. Be prepared.

Before the great flood, people were carrying on with life as usual. They did nothing to prepare. “They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.”

Does that have any resonance for today?

I think about the coastal cities and communities of the world, where the water is already rising. The climate is changing, the flood is coming, and waters are rising.

Meanwhile, HGTV shows us people looking for beachfront property. Rich people, looking for bargains in poor countries, where they “just love the culture” though they don’t speak the language. People who apparently haven’t heard that the oceans are rising, or perhaps believe that their money protects them from rising waters as it insulates them from poverty and unemployment and the daily insecurities of most of the world.

So they carry on, eating and drinking, partying and politicking as if there were no reckoning coming. As if the waters were not already rising, the ice caps already melting. As if villages from the Philippines to Alaska were not being swamped by rising waters.

In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away…

Therefore, stay awake!

Stay awake—and instead, our government closes its eyes, withdraws fuel efficiency standards for cars, advocates for burning more coal, dis deeper and dirtier for oil. Water pollution standards, air pollution standards, soil conservation programs—going, going, gone. Who cares about tomorrow?

We are one world. Rising sea levels threaten us all. Air pollution sickening children in North Minneapolis hurts us all. Lead in drinking water in Flint, Michigan and in New Jersey is our problem, too.

“Brothers and sisters, “Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”

Now is the time. Now is the hour.

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