“Wake Up” – Romans 13:11-12, Matthew 24:42
1st weekend in Advent – Nov. 26 & 27,2016
Maybe you know someone like Teddy. While we were living in St. Louis, we got to know him. He was from the Philippines and his dad, too, was attending the seminary. Teddy was deathly allergic to bee-stings. After nearly dying from being stung by a bee, he had to always have a life-saving kit close at hand should he ever be stung again. Teddy knew that he:
- had to constantly be AWARE of the threat of bees;
- he always had to be AWAKE to their presence, and
- he knew that wherever he went he had to be ARMED with the life-saving antidote.
God’s Word to us at the beginning of another Advent season speaks to us about these same three “Be’s” – not the stinging bees, but “the Advent Be’s: Be Aware / Be Awake / Be Armed.
God’s Word from Romans 13 warns us: “understand (be aware of) the PRESENT time” (v.11a) Teddy understood first-hand the urgency of his situation, he was AWARE that his life depended on his avoiding a bee-sting. I don’t have to remind you that we are living in a very sinful and permissive society. God’s Word and His clearly revealed will is either shunned or deliberately disobeyed. (banning the use of Jesus’ name under threat of job loss; disrespect for life issues; the re-definition of marriage and the many sins of God’s precious gift of sexuality; slander and disrespect; scandals and misuse of those in authority; the many examples of blatant rebellion against the truth of God’s Word).
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us plainly: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37-39) How could that be? The people who lived at the time of Noah “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all way?” [NOTE CAREFULLY: As is so often the case, God’s Word is not talking about information but about attitude!]
What an “object lesson” God told Noah to build! Who could miss the huge barge-like structure: 1½ football fields long; almost ½ a football field wide, and 3 stories, for a total of 45 feet high! Built miles and miles away from any body of water! It is estimated that the ark had room for 522 of our modern-day railroad boxcars! God’s Word tells us that Noah was building on this “giant object lesson” for up to 100 years! And how could anyone living in Noah’s day have missed “knowing” about all those animals: “2 of every kind of living creature” which “came to Noah and entered the ark as God had instructed?” (Genesis 7:6-16) In addition, God’s Word in 2 Peter, calls Noah, “a preacher of righteousness.” (2:5) I wonder how many times Noah answered the question: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
What Jesus is saying as He uses this comparison is that “in the days before the flood, people were” – doing the normal, day-to-day activities, but they were “apathetic” to God’s very obvious message of warning to them – both through Noah’s preaching and his activity of building the huge ark! They were caught up in the routines of life and chose to ignore the message, the warning, that God was giving through Noah. As a result, “the flood came and took them all away”. And Jesus applies this, saying, “This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:39) Therefore, Jesus says, “So you also must be ready.” (Matthew 24:44)
God’s Word clearly tells us: “the hour has come for you to WAKE UP … because your salvation is NEARER now than when we first believed.” When we’re in a deep sleep, we are unconscious and indifferent to the passing of time and to most things happening around us. That’s why we install SMOKE alarms to WAKE us to the danger. Most of us use ALARM clocks to awaken us so we are not late. We need these alarms for our earthly lives – how much more, for our spiritual lives!
God’s “Advent Be’s” sound the alarm to BE AWARE of the dangers all around us and BE AWAKE; “The hour has come for you to WAKE UP from your slumber … The night (of this world/ this life) is nearly over; the day (the Last Day, the Day of the Lord) is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the ARMOR of LIGHT.” (v.12)
This is military language – “be armed!” Our time is short (no one knows how much longer we have in this world.) Newsweek magazine (Nov.1, 1999) reports that U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay displays a wood carving in his office that reads: “This could be the day!” (What a great, Biblical reminder, especially for all caught up in the busy routines of life!)
We all know of loved ones for whom “the day” has already come. Who will it be next? It could be any one of us. “This could be the day.” Are you ready?
“Being ready” is living in the reminder of the blessings of our baptism; it is living with the forgiveness that Jesus Christ has won for you and me. It is living with faith in Jesus, and seeking to do what His Word commands. It is regularly coming from our busy day-to-day activities, to gather together as a congregation to receive God’s gifts of Word and Sacraments; be re-directed in our lives; READY for another week of living and serving.
Again this Advent, and each day of our lives, God’s Word reminds us of the Advent Be’s – BE AWARE – “understand the present time” (Romans 13:11a)
BE AWAKE – “the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (v.11b)
BE ARMED – “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light … clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not make plans to satisfy the desires of the sinful nature.” (v.12b)
We are blessed to receive God’s blessings in worship during this Advent season not just on the weekends, but also through the mid-week Wednesday services. You are invited to join us Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. with the school students or 7:00 p.m. after the Advent meal for God’s Word of direction and comfort as we are aware, awake and armed, ready for Jesus’ return at the end of time.
God’s Advent blessings to you and your family.