Speaking to the Soul: A Thief Sometime Around Noon


Week of Advent 2, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)

Isaiah 5:8-12, 18-23

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Luke 21:20-28

The prediction that the day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” is both familiar and terrifying. The “thief in the night” analogy is especially effective for those of us who have, in fact, been visited by thieves in the middle of the night. I can attest from personal experience that a middle-of-the-night break-in sure gets this message across: stay awake! When we remember that the Lord appears “like a thief in the night,” we expect the Lord to startle and scare us when we’re at our most peaceful and vulnerable.

But the whole point of this passage is to reassure us that we need not be afraid or on edge, because we do not live in the night at all. As Paul writes, “you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day.” The Lord doesn’t approach us with shock and terror after all.

Because Paul associates “night” with both sleep and drunkenness, he associates “children of the day” with awareness and sobriety. He doesn’t require literal sleeplessness of these “children of the day,” for “whether we are awake or asleep we may live” with Christ. But we must strive to live with our eyes wide open. If we do, we don’t need to live in fear, but rather in joyful expectation of God’s presence and justice with us.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Bruce Marshall
Bruce Marshall

This reflection reminds me of Reinhold Niebuhr's fine book, "The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness." Niebuhr took a rather different slant on the gospel text, but it is one that seems particularly relevant to our current tragic condition and that bears re-reading, even after almost half a century.

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