Aloha Friday Message – November 25, 2016 – First Sunday of Advent

1648AFC112516 – 1st Advent 2016

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Matthew 24:42 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

GOOD MORNING! IT’S TIME TO RISE AND SHINE! (↔ Music Link)

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) I begin today with a thank you to all the people who sent me birthday-greetings. I am finally as old as I have been feeling and behaving for 20+ years. Instead of “act your age,” I’m caught up to the point where my actions are “age appropriate.” As I told one well-wisher, “If you’re only as old as you feel, I just passed 107!” Next thing you know it will be my eleventy-first birthday. It brought to mind this moment so many years ago when actually being 70 seemed eons away: Old Friends (↔ Music Link).

You recall that I “retired” 12/31/13 and started working just 16 or so hours a week. This year on 12/31/16, I will cease that schedule and only occasionally get called up for consultations on this-n-that from my current employers who are also family in that Crucita and I are godparents to their two amazing daughters. All-in-all, it’s been a very good year. (↔ Music Link). I think the best part, so far, about being “retired” is being able to sleep. I can easily put in 10 hours. Time was that I was on call, working in the lab, going to school, raising kids, and active in our Parish and somehow got by on way less rest. I suppose that’s caught up with me now; but, I also recall learning to wake up almost instantly to take a call from the hospital, or comfort a crying child, or investigate an unfamiliar noise. I would be truly awake and ready with only a moment’s notice. Now it is not like that at all. It is so much easier to fall asleep – and sometimes even stay asleep. Falling asleep is something we just kind of slip into. One minute you’re watching TV or listening to the neighbor’s dog bark and next thing you know it’s the middle of the night the next time your open your eyes. There are situations in life, of course, where that kind of trusting abandonment of the activities of daily living is unwise.

When you are on sentry duty in the military, or driving cross-country, or waiting for the boarding call for a bus or plane, it’s bad form to fall asleep. Your obligation is to stay awake and be prepared, watchful, and ready to take action. It is precisely the same stance of readiness Jesus is admonishing us to take in our spiritual lives. There is a war going on all around us, and we are the objective of that war. As the Apostle Paul stated 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Please use this link to see that in context:

Ephesians 6:10-20. One might be surprised by how many times Jesus told his Disciples – and us of course – to “stay awake.” Here are a few samples.

Matthew 24:42-44 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Mark 13:33-37 33 Beware, keep alert [and pray]; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 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. 35 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, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Matthew 26:41 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 13:33 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

Mark 14:38 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Most of these apply to times of crisis. You probably recognize some of them as being excerpts from The Agony in the Garden. (See Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46, and Mark 14:32-42.) Some of them are “eschatological” in nature – they are statements about the “end time” when The World is approaching Judgment Day and the end of life as we know it. Is Jesus’ warning us that we should watch the signs, the times, and the seasons so that we will know when “the end is near?” Actually no, he is not. He’s quite clear about the End of Everything. I recall some guy named Rev. Harold Camping loudly and widely predicted that Jesus was coming back on May 21, 2011. That was when The Rapture was to occur. We now know, of course, that he was incorrect (he was incorrect several times) because we are still here. Either Jesus did not return and take (as in gather up or being caught up) believers with him, or there are no worthy Christians to be raptured. We also know why he was incorrect:

Matthew 24:36 36 But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13:32 32 But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

We can watch for the signs Jesus told us about in the following verses – Matthew 24:3-8 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” But why should we bother? First, we don’t know when any of that will be the beginning of the end because all of those things have been going on for literally tens of thousands of years. They get worse from time to time, and people proclaim “the end is near,” but (you’ve heard this recently) “it’s always good in the end so if it’s not good yet, it’s not the end.” We need to be awake for something else, something far more practical and immediate. We need to be on the watch for slipping away into sin in much the same way as we slip into sleep. We can just slide back into sin without even knowing it.

We know that term, “backslider.” Every one of us sinners knows that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of times (especially for we who are older) we have gone from an upright Christian posture as an active Christian, living an effective life in accordance with the Gospel to being face-down on the ground pleading for God’s mercy because we’ve slipped once again into those besetting sins that always are standing just outside the door, waiting to reclaim us. We are to be watchful, then, because Satan and his demons are always on the prowl, lurking about for the opportunity to ambush us and drag us back into sin. It seems that no matter how many times we repent, we are still easily tricked so very often that being watchful feels like a complete futility. If you, if I, if we feel like that, we are missing an important connection about why we must “stay awake.”

That connection is the connection between sin and eternal death. It is also the connection between holiness and eternal life. If the moment of Jesus’ return is – as he consistently tells us – so completely unknown, then we need to be prepared always for it to happen. There’s an old parenting question which Pastors often use: “If Jesus came back right this minute would you be happy or embarrassed about how you are living in this very moment?” Well, would I, would you be pleased for Jesus to see you and me after the way we’ve acted this week; this day; in the past hour; right this minute? Hmmm. If that makes you a little uncomfortable, good! You might just realize you’re not ready yet. You might just have just enough time to get to a couple of good deeds you have been postponing. You might have a few moments left to repent of the way you treat your neighbor or honor your Creator and Saviour. THAT is why you need to stay awake, to be vigilant, to be responsible for your spiritual state of being. It’s a pretty cool word in Greek: γρηγορεῖτε (grēgoreite) {gre-gor-ei‘-te} from γρηγορέω (grégoreó) {gray-gor-yoo’-o}  to be alert, awake, keep watch (4), keep watching, keeping alert, stay on the alert.

awakeIn Mark 13:33, we have another take on this idea of preparedness. He says Βλέπετε, ἀγρυπνεῖτε (Blepete, agrypneite). The first word has connotations meaning it carries what is seen  physically into the non-physical (immaterial) realm so a person can take the needed action (respond, beware, be alert). The second word is construed as no sleeping; (figuratively) staying vigilant (alert, attentive), i.e. without any unnecessary “down time.” You might remember the alleged catchphrase of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody: “Constant Vigilance.” (It was never actually spoken by him in the series.) That is what Jesus expects of us – CONSTANT VIGILANCE with regard to our sinfulness as it relates to his return. Let us pray that at the moment of his return he will find us vigilant, prepared, our lamps full and lit, our hearts clean, and our souls eager and ready to be gathered up into Glory with him.

We close with this quote from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Therefore Belovéd, live in the light and STAY AWAKE.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

PS: Thank you for your prayers for MNK. Things seem to be better now!

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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