Keep Awake!

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, December 2, 2013 by Robin Williamson

Introduction

How easy do we find it staying awake? (I remember an embarrassing experience, when I was working at KCC at a seminar after lunch, sitting in the dim lecture hall near the front so I could see the screen, but I dropped right off when the Chief Executive was speaking!)

Here we are at Advent Sunday again! The official beginning of the Church’s year. (I used to hate it – as when I was here in the Sunday school, 60 years ago, we moved up into our new classes on Advent Sunday, and I was sad to leave my old teacher!)

Anyway, Advent is when we not only look forward to the first coming of Christ and Christmas, but also to His triumphant return.

Yes, I look forward to Christmas – and really enjoy it, and yes, I fully believe in Christ’s 2nd coming, but today’s readings (Romans 13:11-14 and Matthew 24:36-44) are filled with warnings, admonitions and the seriousness of the times.

Not knowing what will happen, or when, is enough to fill us with a sense of dread and apprehension about the future. Christmas spirit, joy and fun seem to be absent from these readings.

Is this how we are supposed to be feeling at the beginning of Advent?

No doubt there is still shopping to be done (I have to!) and plans to be finalised, the readings do not focus on the anticipated festivities.

They urge us to stay awake, being watchful and prepared, as Christ’s second coming is going to be sudden and unexpected, like a thief in the night and like the flood in Noah’s time which seemed to take the people unawares.

People in Noah’s day were busy and totally absorbed with the ordinary activities of life – eating and drinking and getting married. So engrossed where they that they gave no thought to the impending judgement, or at least not until they got their feet wet! They didn’t recognise God in their midst.

The apostle Paul writing to the Roman Christians urges them to wake from sleep – to wake up now. There is urgency and passion.

“Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep – For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.”

When we are really asleep we are ‘out of it’ – completely unaware of our surroundings: we hear and see nothing (unless we are dreaming). We are totally unable to respond to anything until we wake up.

Paul is urging Christ’s followers, and that includes us, to have a spring clean of our lives as it were and try to get rid of any thoughts, actions or things that we believe Christ is not happy with, and make sure that we have indeed ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, by inviting Him to be Lord of our lives.

When Christ came the first time, most people were not ready.

We honestly have no idea when Christ’s 2nd coming will be and although over the years many have speculated, Jesus said that only God the Father knows when this will be.

Jesus recorded words in our Gospel reading suggest that His coming is imminent and we may not have as much time to prepare as we think.

To avoid being caught off guard as others have in the past, we are encouraged to stay awake, remain vigilant and alert. This requires personal decision and action.

What we do, determines whether we’ll be a loser or a winner. Everyone who fails to take heed of God’s solemn words will experience His judgement. Jesus said,

“Two men were out in the field, one will be taken and one will be left”

Very solemn words. Some will make it and some will not.

But let’s not be scared or frightened. Let’s be thankful that Christ promises to be with those who love Him. Hebrews 13:4 says,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

And to the penitent thief on the cross,

“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

So in the light of all this, and bearing in mind that we are within a new chapter at St Luke’s:

  • Let us ask God to help us be aware of those things, thoughts or attitudes that He may be asking us to lay down that are unhelpful, and get in the way of all that Christ wants to do in us and through us – now and in the future.
  • Let’s stay awake! That is try to be alert to all that God is nudging us to do, and try to do it, and recognise that we all have a part to play.
  • Let’s try to accept any new ideas that may emerge, for the way mission and ministry are undertaken here, and encourage our leaders in any way we can.
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