Watching… I look every day but still they haven’t come; the eaves of my neighbour’s house are eerily still. No swallows yet. Each year I enjoy the spectacle of these never-still birds flitting and diving low past my window, catching insects on the wing then swooping back to next-door’s roof. Such a contrast to the bobbing sparrows and hopping tits. An eminent nature writer said in March that the swallows had left their African winter home to return to Europe for the summer. Ever since I’ve eagerly looked for their re-appearance, for swallows return to the same roost year after year. Someone reported that bad weather was holding them up. But still I look each morning, hopefully, at the bare gable end of my neighbours’ home, just as the Bible says, "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young." (Psalm 84:3, NKJV) My watching is for swallows but a different kind of watching appears in the Bible. Israel divided their night into four watches: ‘even’, ‘midnight’, ‘cockcrowing’ and ‘morning’, each lasting three-hours. This system was vital in a country that had to be alert to any kind of trouble. In the New Testament these ‘watches’ are applied to looking for Jesus’ second coming and all four feature in Mark 13:35: "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning." (KJV) The ‘master of the house’ refers to Jesus. For those of us eagerly awaiting his return (Acts 1:11) this is something to remember. While we don’t know exactly when this will happen, we have confidence in the promise, just as I believe that one day I will again see those swallows performing their darting dance outside my window.

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