This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, December 1, 2013, as part of the “Hanging of the Greens” service.
Reading: Matthew 24:36-44
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear so that together, we might be inspired to live and share your Word in the world starting today. Amen.
It’s the Boy Scout motto: “be prepared.” Robert Baden-Powell, the father of the scouting movement, explains the motto in the third part of his book, Scouting for Boys:
The Scout Motto is: BE PREPARED which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY.
- Be Prepared in Mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.
- Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.
May we, like the scouts, be ever so vigilant that we might always be prepared.
Today marks the beginning of Advent, the countdown to the celebration of Jesus’ birth; and it’s in our Gospel lesson that we’re reminded of the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.
The time of Christ’s arrival will come like a thief in the night. You won’t know when Christ will return till it happens. And on that day, Christ will hold us accountable for our faithfulness or lack thereof. So, we should always be prepared by living life well—growing in our love for God and others in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ.
With nearly two millenia having gone by since Jesus’ resurrection, it is easy to get lazy: to think we’ll always have tomorrow to begin seriously following after Jesus. But, we shouldn’t take for granted the time God has given for us to “get right” with God and our neighbors No! We should always be prepared: doing our best “to live as people worthy of the call [we] received from God” (Ephesians 4:1, Common English Bible).
We should be “prepared in mind” by disciplining ourselves to be obedient to God’s will through the reading and hearing of Scripture and through daily, intentional prayer. We must commune regularly with God so that we might “know the right [Godly] thing to do at the right moment, and be willing to do it.”
We should be “prepared in body” by making ourselves strong in and active through the Church—the body of Christ alive in the world today—so that we might be “able to do the right [Godly] thing at the right moment” for the sake of the world God so loved and came to save.
We must be prepared.
We must prepare ourselves for the coming of the Master—Jesus Christ our Lord.
And hear the Good News: you don’t have to do it alone. You don’t have to, nor should you prepare alone. The Church’s primary purpose in “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” is to help prepare individuals and the world for Christ’s return. It is our responsibility to encourage one another in our walk with Jesus and service to the world. That’s why we offer regular Bible Study and times of corporate prayer and worship. It’s why we must provide opportunities for people to serve one another and the world. It’s also why we provide you with resources—lots of resources—to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, Common English Bible). All of these things are meant to help you lead faithful lives, prepared and equipped for whatever might come your way.
As we begin this Advent season, I plead with you: be prepared, “stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming… Therefore you…should be prepared because the Human One [the Son of Man] will come at a time you do not know” (Matthew 24:42, 44, Common English Bible).
 Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys—Campfire Yarn No. 3—Becoming a Scout as quoted on Wikipedia.org <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scout_Motto#cite_ref-1> Accessed November 30, 2013.