Asleep At The Wheel

 

Grace to you and peace from God; our Creator, Redeemer and Guide.

 

 

I remember when I suddenly realized I was not invincible. It was while I was in seminary. I was driving home after a church event… had been up early, studying, classes, volunteering. It was late. I was most of the way home, just a few more miles. But I fell asleep when I was driving.

I woke up in the middle of the intersection with headlights shining in my side window.

I had run a red light—

I was completely in the wrong and would have been at fault if they would have been closer and we crashed. We did not. I was lucky, but I was still guilty. And I was suddenly wide awake. I always considered myself a responsible driver, but I still fell asleep.

Driving is often used as a metaphor for living life. We are headed in a particular direction in life, speeding along toward our destination… living our daily lives with family, work, school, friends, leisure activities, whatever. Most of the time we manage to navigate through the various options and obstacles pretty well. At other times, we all have the occasion to realize our attention has wandered and we have veered off course, or worse, fallen completely asleep and are out of control.

Ideally, we catch ourselves before we are in a dangerous situation, but often we do not and we realize we have “sideswiped” someone else, gotten off track and stuck in a ditch or completely messed up our own and other’s lives in a “head on collision.”

We often fall asleep in our spiritual lives as well. Not different now than in Jesus’ time, and he addresses the situation in our text this morning in Matthew 24:36-44. We consider ourselves “good people” and even “prepared to meet the Lord.” But Jesus reminds us that NO ONE is really prepared and ALL will be caught unawares. Even the angels don’t know. No one. Not one will know. Period. So we are called to stay vigilant. We are to be constantly on alert…always preparing.

This time of year especially, it is easy to put ourselves on autopilot. We get caught up in all the hype. We do things the way we have always done them before. The routines feel enough like traditions that we often don’t question why we do the things we do. I am going to ask you to question everything. I have a video that will hopefully make you think.

THE ADVENT CONSPIRACY VIDEO

(Text: EVERYONE WANTS CHIRSTMAS TO BE MEANINGFUL, BUT INSTEAD IT BECOMES SHOP, SHOP, SHOP; DREDIT CARDS, TRAFFIC JAMS, TO DO LISTS, USELESS GIFTS. THEN OFF TO CHURCH (music) NOEL, NOEL, NOEL. NO… SOMETIMES WE’RE GLAD JUST TO SURVIVE IT.

AMERICANS SPEND 450 BILLION (450,000,000,000) ON CHRISTMAS EVERY YEAR. EVERY YEAR. SO WE ASK: HOW DID JESUS CELEBRATE? JESUS… HE GAVE HIMSELF. RELATIONALLY. INCARNATION. TIME.SPACE. PRESENCE (DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?) WHAT IF YOU BOUGHT FEWER GIFTS? THAT SWEATER SHE WON’T LIKE? THAT RANDOM GIFT CERTIFICATE? THAT TOY HE DOESN’T NEED? AND THEN INSTEAD OF BUYING THAT (picture of a present) GIVE SOMETHING VALUABLE, LIKE YOUR TIME. TALK, EAT, SLED, BAKE, BIKE, READ, PLAY, CREATE, DRAFT… TOGETHER. MAKE GIFTS (LIKE WHEN YOU WERE A KID) AND REMEMBER SOME OF THAT MONEY YOU DIDN’T SPEND? WHAT IF YOU GAVE SOME OF IT AWAY? TO THE POOR? THE HURTING, THE LONELY, THE HUNGRY, THE SICK, THE THIRSTY? LACK OF CLEAN WATER KILLS MORE PEOPLE EVERY DAY THAN ANYTHING. AND HERE’S THE THING…THE ESTIMATED COST TO MAKE CLEAN WATER AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE IS $10 BILLION. $10 BILLION TO SOLVE WORLD WATER, 450 BILLION SPENT ON CHRISTMAS (as the 10 billion image shrinks). DO YOU SEE WHAT COULD HAPPEN?

IN 2006 FOUR CHURCHES GAVE $500,000 TO BUILD FRESH WATER WELLS. IN 2007 MORE CHURCHES SAID “LET’S DO THIS THING.” AND 3 MILLION WAS GIVEN. THAT’S A LOT OF LOVE, LIFE. ALL BECAUSE PEOPLE SPENT LESS ON GIFTS AND MORE ON RELATIONSHIPS. LET’S FACE IT. CONSUMERISM DOES NOT EQUAL HAPPINESS, MEMORIES, MEANING. SPEND LESS ON GIFTS. GIVE MORE PRESENCE. LOVE LIKE JESUS. IT BEGAN WITH WORSHIP. (picture of magi at the manger) IT BEGINS WITH WORSHIP. WORSHIP FULLY. SPEND LESS. GIVE MORE. LOVE ALL. THIS IS THE SEASON OF ADVENT. YOU ARE FREE TO WORSHIP, LIVE, BREATHE, GIVE , LAUGH, CELEBRATE, CONSPIRE. (singing “season of miracles”) ENTER THE STORY. ADVENT CONSPIRACY. End of Video)

What if you gave something valuable, like your time?

As soon as I woke up, in the intersection, with headlights shining in my window, I was wide awake, but I had to pull over and collect myself.

I am going to tell you to “WAKE UP!” We are in the intersection! Today is the first day of Advent. I don’t want you to be asleep at the wheel this December. Pull over a minute and look at where you are. I am asking you to spend your time AND your money wisely this season, MORE INTENTIONALLY AND LESS FRANTICALLY. I am asking you to make the most of Advent SPIRITUALLY AND RELATIONALLY THIS YEAR. As a congregation we are already off to a good start. We are going to Africa to bring relief. We volunteer with the homeless and serve food and love to the hungry. Just look at the gifts pouring in for the residents at Interfaith! Just look at the food barrel overflowing. Don’t stop there, however. Look around at what gets you off track, in your life and in your family. What drains away your liveliness in December? What frazzles you this season? Where does your stress come from? IT’S NOT FROM JESUS.

And so I urge you… Give yourself this Christmas.

 

Please pray with me: Almighty God, you are holy and worthy of our worship. Help us to make you our first and best thought, our highest and most joyous hope, and always, as we wait for your coming with eager longing, make us willing to serve you as we serve your people. Amen.