Sunday, November 27 – “Stay Awake”
View this recorded version of Sunday Worship from November 27, 2022.
Romans 13:11-14 and Matthew 24:36-44
Reflection: Stay Awake
Excerpts from the reflection by Rev. Dr. Fred Grewe:
“The word advent means the arrival or the coming of a notable person, thing or event. And advent is a season that is focused on preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus in all ways, not just in the nativity that we will celebrate on December 25th, but also his expected return as the coming one, the Messiah, at the end of the ages (to use Biblical language). And so the first 3 weeks of advent are really a focus on what may sound apocalyptic to you–the end times. So it’s an expectation of this coming of the Christ, of Jesus, to us–that’s what advent is about.
A lot of folks, you’re probably familiar with it, have used these texts [from Matthew 24] somewhat to scare people about the second coming, and how there’s going to be all kinds of disasters at the end of the world. And if you believe in Jesus or give your life to Jesus, you will be raptured.
That’s a word, it’s not in the Bible anywhere, but the idea is that you’ll be taken out and you’ll get to escape all of this horrible suffering that the Bible talks about that will likely happen.
Now I want you to know that this whole theology is only about 200 years old. So for the first 1,800 years of Christianity nobody talked like that. Nobody had a rapture idea, or anything.
It was developed by a man named John Darby, who was, I believe, Irish and English, and about 200 years ago sort of came up with this idea that the followers of Jesus wouldn’t have to endure horrible suffering at the end which to my way of reading is really an escapist mentality.
[It’s] a particular reading of these texts that does not resonate with me at all, but I think the main point I want to address in this particular text is that I believe what Jesus is saying it that we shouldn’t get so caught up and so focused on what might happen that we may miss the very present moment right in front of us. And so at the very beginning of the text Jesus says nobody knows that day or the hour, and Jesus says even I don’t know.
So, if Jesus doesn’t know the day or the hour when all things are supposed to come to an end, do you think the guy on TV knows when it’s gonna happen? Or these preachers that talk about all this end-time stuff have any clue, if Jesus doesn’t know?
So I think the point he’s making is don’t be so consumed or worried about what is going to take place that you miss living in the right now in the very present moment and that’s why he says ‘Keep watch’, or another version says ‘Stay awake’, and I like that, ‘Stay awake’. Don’t be so worried about who’s going to take control of the Senate or the House of Representatives, or who’s going to win the Oregon [versus] Oregon State football game, or what’s going to happen in the future.
Don’t! Don’t miss what’s right here right now, which is similar to what Paul is saying, in the first reading from Romans. He says, ‘Wake up from your slumber’–Don’t get so focused on what might happen that you’re missing what’s right in front of you.