Reflection Sunday 29 November 2020
Awake! Keep Awake!
13:37 “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
"But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
Jesus says in Mark 13:37 ‘And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ In Ephesians 5:14b Saint Paul writes, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
How do you wake up in the morning or evening if on night shift? Does it take you a while to be really awake? Do you have a waking up routine? What do you do? Do you begin with a prayer? Have you heard this great prayer for getting up in the morning?
So far today I’m doing all right.
I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy,
Grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent.
However, I’m going to get out of bed in a few minutes,
And I’ll need a lot of help after that. Amen
By Nancy Corcoran in Secrets of Prayer: A Multifaith Guide to Creating Personal Prayer in Your Life
I often get calls in the morning and when they hear my voice people ask me if I am awake. Of course, I am awake when I answer the phone. I either have been up for a while or the phone has just woken me up. I am awake. I wouldn’t be answering the phone if I was asleep. When I wake up first in the morning, I may be awake but it takes a while for me to switch on, to be aware of what is going on around me, to be alert, to be alive. During Advent I want to focus on what I call the ‘A’s of Advent as we prepare for Christmas. The ‘A’s of Advent include the words: awake, aware, alert, alive.
Has 2020 been a wake up to the world? Perhaps for some, but it seems that all too easily it is back to business as usual- corporate greed flows again, exploitation spreads, wars resume and increase, environmental degradation marches on. How can we so easily forget the devasting fires, the smoke circumnavigating the earth, millions of animals killed, homes and livelihoods destroyed? And the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic? As of Saturday, 28 November 2020 the official number of people who have died from Covid-19 throughout the world is 1,448,942 and it continues to spread.
Why do we need to be awake? Noam Chomsky said - As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.
Advent asks us: ‘Are you awake?’ Advent says to us, ‘Wake up.’ Being awake is more than being no longer asleep. Being awake means being fully alert, being fully aware and being fully alive. Being awake is not restricted to our own wellbeing or salvation, but involves the salvation or wellbeing of the whole world and that means being awake to all that is going on in the world.
Richard Rohr says, ‘The need for adult Christianity and Jesus’ actual message is so urgent that we cannot allow the great feast of Christmas and its preparation in Advent to be watered down in any way. The suffering, injustice and devastation on this planet are too great to settle for an infantile Gospel or Jesus. Jesus taught that the “reign of God” or the “kingdom of God” asks a great deal of us personally —surrender, simplicity and solidarity with suffering.’ He says, ‘To be in Advent means to be aware, alive, attentive, alert, anticipating. Advent is, above all else, a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness.’
Catholic Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio says, ‘Going to church (or religious service) at least once a week challenges us to wake up from our isolated slumber and join in prayer with all who suffer the pain of life’s constant struggles; to be part of the eschatological community, and to realize that suffering and sacrifice are part of the ongoing evolution of life. God is doing new things and we are invited to share in the new creation. To resist sacrifice or ignore pain is to suppress the vitality of life and its impulse to evolve. When we are beaten down and defeated, our tendency is to give up and declare life a failure. Going to church is an invitation to get up again and awaken to a new future. God invites us to the sounds of a new beginning, a new ecclesia, not a closed assembly of friends but a disruption of sameness to envision a new a church of the planet, where all people can find dignity, acceptance and love, where the lion can lie down with the lamb, and nature is at peace.’ (Christogenesis.org)
Prayer: Wake us up Lord!
God of Salvation,
Wake us up Lord!
The night is nearly over.
Let us begin our Advent journey.
Move us from our lives
Of greed and selfishness,
From our globalised world
Of inequality and exploitation,
To your kingdom
Of righteousness and mercy.
To a transformed world,
Where peace is built on understanding not weapons,
The poor are empowered to live their lives to the full,
Businesses are built on need not greed
And your Creation is nurtured not abused.
Wake us up Lord!
Let us live as people of the light.
Photo: Cicada Shells, Bulli, November 2020
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Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation