Littlewell
Christ Centered Church Resource Site

Wake Up

Romans 13:11-14
Sun, November 29, 1998
Rev. Ed Searcy
It's that time again.

There's no denying it.

A Christmas card arrived in the mail on Tuesday.

There was a line up for Santa in the mall on Thursday.

An invitation to a Christmas 'open house' came on Friday.

And, this morning, the first candle ...

the first candle of Advent.

There's no denying it.

It's time.

Time to get out the strings of lights.

Time to make the lists

and check them twice ... even thrice.

Grocery lists.

Card lists.

Gift lists.

'To do' lists.

And the child in us,

the children among us,

are eager with anticipation.

Anticipation

not only for gifts under the tree

but also for the gifts

of mystery and beauty

that we unwrap together

in the depths of this dismal season

of downpour and darkness.

It is the time when

a little child

must be our guide

if we are to journey through

the cynical wilderness of the 'real world'

into the blessed kingdom of love and peace

whose royal castle is a stable

and whose king is enthroned on a manger.

We have looked at the calendar.

We have opened our eyes long enough

to glimpse the hour on the clock.

We know what time it is.

But Paul keeps knocking on the bedroom door.

"Wake up ... wake up

don't you know what time it is?"

From our groggy sleep we call back in a muffled voice:

"We're awake ... we're getting up."

Just a few more minutes of sleep.

That's all we need.

So we hit the slumber button on the alarm clock

and drift back into a jumble of dreams.

Crowded shopping malls.

Lists after lists after lists.

A tree to choose

and a turkey to stuff

and a holiday to plan.

Knock, knock, knock.

He's back.

Paul is back at the door.

"Wake up. Wake up.

Last call.

Do you have any idea what time it is?"

We look at the alarm.

Why hasn't it gone off?

It is blinking ... on and off, on and off.

"What happened" we ask.

"The power went out" says Paul.

"The hour is late. Wake up!"

Stumbling out of bed,

rubbing our eyes,

stretching

we open the blinds

and are startled by the light.

We had imagined that it was still night,

still dark.

But the day has already dawned.

Suddenly,

like Rip van Winkle

awaking from a coma,

we realize that it has all been a dream.

The lists.

The panic to get everything done.

The sugar-coated season of excess.

All a dream.

As our eyes adjust to the light

we see the 'real world'

as if for the first time.

Students see December looming on the calendar

and feel anxiety levels rising.

Families see the 25th just around the corner

and wonder how they'll get through it this year.

All of the old tensions return.

All of the grief comes flooding back.

Christians bring a few baskets of food and clothing

for those whose stomachs are empty

and who live on the streets

in the wealthiest land on earth

and we feel that sick anguish in the pit of our stomachs

imagining what a tiny gift it is

in the face of the earth's untold suffering.

The trouble with Paul's knock at the door ...

The trouble with waking up ...

The trouble with Advent is

that it means facing reality.

The rest of the world is eager to celebrate Christmas.

It wants a 'quick fix'.

It wants 'instant gratification'.

It wants 'Joy to the World'

and it wants it now!

But waking up to reality

means waking up to the world's pain.

It means waking up to what is going on all around us.

When Paul knocks on the door

and we open our eyes

we see that,

in the words of my colleague Gordon Harland,

"There is enough pain in any city block

to crack open the heart of the world."

It's enough to make even the most courageous of us

climb back under the covers.

Little wonder, then,

that many people do just that in this season.

They submerge themselves

in the lists and tasks of Christmas ...

in the endless shopping and baking

and hosting and partying.

They pull up the comforter and drift back

into the safety of candy-cane dreams.

But Paul senses our despair.

He opens the bedroom door a crack

and offers a word of hope:

"Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed ...

Put on the armour of light."

What is Paul saying?

That salvation is not to be found

in the safety of our dreams

or the security of our beloved Christmas 'busy-ness'?

Is he really saying that God is drawing near

in the awful reality that the daylight reveals?

Yes.

This is Paul's wake up call to all who will listen.

Now is not the time to drift off,

not the time to fall asleep at the switch.

Now is the time to wake up

to what God is up to in the world.

Listen to the way in which Eugene Peterson translates

these verses from Paul's letter to the church in Rome:

"But make sure that you don't get

so absorbed and exhausted

in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations

that you lose track of time and doze off, oblivious to God.

The night is about over, dawn is about to break.

Be up and awake to what God is doing!

God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work

he began when we first believed.

We can't afford to waste a minute,

must not squander these precious daylight hours

in frivolity and indulgence,

in sleeping around and dissipation,

in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.

Get out of bed and get dressed!

Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute.

Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!"(1)

Dress yourselves in Christ.

Such strange and yet familiar language ...

the oft-forgotten language of the font and of the table:

"You are the Body of Christ ...

and each individually members of it."

"Take eat and drink ... this is my body, this my blood."

Christians are those

who have awakened to the 'real world' of God.

Christians are those who

are not afraid to wake from the dream world

of consumerism and materialism

to the reality of human misery.

Why?

Because Christians see this world bathed in the light

of what God is doing in Jesus Christ.

Christians face the reality of injustice and inhumanity

wearing the armour of God's light ...

the protection provided by a deep and abiding trust in God

and in God's Word of hope.

So it is that we seek to dress ourselves in Christ ...

to embody the love of Christ in a world whose heart is cracked

open by the pain in every city block ... and every rural county.

A few weeks ago,

Bill Buck passed along an interesting footnote.

He mentioned a friend who wears an intriguing bracelet.

On the bracelet four letters are engraved:

"WWJD".

WWJD?

I wondered what it meant ... so did Bill.

So he asked.

"Oh", said Bill's friend,

"It stands for What Would Jesus Do?".

A reminder.

A constant reminder that we put on Jesus

every time we get dressed.

Perhaps that is the reason that so many Christians

wear a cross around their necks.

Not just as a reminder of what Jesus has done for us,

but also as a statement of the kind of life

we live when we put on Christ ...

a life that participates in the suffering of Christ

for the world.

Janice Love and I were

wondering about these things at the

"Wandering Sermon Workshop" this past week.

Wondering what Christ puts on when he wakes up ...

what we would put on if we actually put on Christ

rather than simply reminders to be like Christ.

Surely Jesus doesn't need a bracelet that says

"WWJD".

After all, he is Jesus!

And he doesn't need to wear a cross around his neck.

Not when he still bears the marks

of its nails in his hands and feet and side.

A few hours later,

just as I was preparing to head home for dinner,

Janice knocked on my door.

"I've spent the afternoon reading about the life of the Trinity

and I keep coming back to that question:

What does Christ put on when he wakes up in the morning?

I wonder if when Christ gets up in the morning

he puts on a locket."

"Oh", I asked,

"Who's picture is in the locket?"

Janice said

"I think that it is a picture of us".

In Jesus Christ we have awoken to

God's love affair

with the earth and its people.

To awaken to this reality

is to fall in love,

through Christ,

with God

and with God's beloved creation.

In putting on Christ

we dress ourselves in God's love

for the earth and its people.

Wake up. Wake up.

For salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.




1. Eugene Peterson, The Message (NavPress, 1993), p. 330.