When you woke up this morning did you think that Jesus may have come while you were sleeping and you missed it? Have you ever slept in and woke up to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the family already up and doing whatever they do when they get up? How did that feel to you? Did it feel good because you were more rested or did you feel like you were behind all day because you woke up in the middle of everything?
Paul admonishes us in his letter to the Romans to “wake up from our sleep” because salvation is nearer than first believed. Matthew has Jesus telling us to stay awake, alert because no one has any idea when the Master, Jesus is going to return.
I wonder, have we become complacent to what’s going on around us? Have we heard this Message so many times that we’ve become de-sensitized to its urgency? Or don’t we believe what Paul and Matthew are telling us?
I wonder. What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that this world will exist forever? Do we believe that we are going to live forever? Do we think that we still have time to change and be everything God desires us to be?
Are we so absorbed in our work and our families that we are unaware of the urgency to slow down and listen for God’s voice? What is it? No one seems to be heeding the warnings. The whole world just seems to be going on as if there is nothing more important than the present moment. Almost like in the times of Noah before the flood.
Another year has passed and Advent is beginning. We’ve been waiting our whole lives for Jesus to return and we’re still waiting. Perhaps there are those who don’t believe that he’s ever coming back. Maybe we think that because we’ve given our hearts to Jesus we don’t have to do anything else.
I think the Message for us today has more urgency now than it did when it was first read. Isaiah is talking about God teaching us his ways and turning weapons of war into farm implements. The psalmist tells us to pray for peace in Jerusalem. Paul says that we all we owe is to love each other, wake up because salvation is near, live in a right way as people of the day, and clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ forgetting about satisfying our sinful selves. Jesus is saying to us in Matthew’s gospel that we should always be ready because no one knows when the Master is coming.
Most of us aren’t thinking about anything else but getting ready for our families and friends on Christmas Day. Paying attention to what’s going on in our communities isn’t one of our top priorities. As I’ve already said there are so many pressing things in our lives that we find it almost impossible to focus on God and what he’s doing in our community and the world around us.
It’s like we’ve lost our connection to Him. We forget that God was in the beginning, he is present with us at this very moment; he will always be with us, always. He’s not going away.
Advent has always been about waiting, watching, preparing, and anticipating the return of Jesus the Christ. Mostly we remember the baby Jesus born in the manger in Bethlehem. We remember the gospel stories about the angels singing, the shepherds watching flocks, and the magi who came bearing gifts. We don’t think about Advent as also being a time when we are reminded that we are also waiting in joyful anticipation the coming of Jesus again.
That’s what today’s Message is for us. Jesus was born in a manger. He did grow up learning the carpenter trade from his father, Joseph. He was a great rabbi who recruited disciples and made some apostles. He was crucified on a cross as we heard last Sunday. He defeated death when he rose from the tomb. His disciples bore witness to that fact.
The gospels give us his words and the Holy Spirit reminds us of them. He said that he was preparing rooms for us and that he was coming back. Friends, that’s what we are all waiting for today and every day. Christ to come back for us.
The good news is that while we are waiting God is here now connected to us in the Word and in our prayers. And while we wait we have been given the task to love others and the work of making this world a place of peace.
Most of us don’t think there is anything that we can do to bring about peace in the entire world but if we would just begin right here in Walnut I think we’d be amazed at how fast it could spread. Of course it’s not about us but about what God is doing through the power of the Holy Spirit in us as we minister to others.
A couple of things to take home with you today: 1) pray for peace in Jerusalem, 2) love others, 3) be awake, awake to what God is doing all around us, 4) and always be ready for Jesus whenever he returns.
Friends, God loves every one of us and he wants all of us to join him in the New Jerusalem one day. Thanks be to God. Amen.