Stay awake! Stand firm in your faith! Be brave and be strong! 1 Cor. 16:13
Do you remember that old 60s TV show, ‘Lost in Space?’ If you do you will never forget ‘The Robot’s’ constraint, “Warning, Warning Wil Robinson,” which it shouted any time the crew of the Jupiter 2 was endangered, especially its youngest member, Wil.
WARNING WARNING … STAY AWAKE!! Be alert!!! Those admonitions these days could be screamed out over and over again. It does not matter where we look in our world … we see violence, hate, division, and challenges. Every time we focus in on the world’s activities, including sometimes our own small circle of life, it seems that events are raising our collective blood pressure level and bringing out our worst feelings rather than our best.
Paul is writing to a challenging group of early Christians in Corinth. Like us, they too were facing challenges in their lives. Those challenges seemed to pull those people of faith, who probably knew someone who had actually seen or heard Jesus, to pull away from their faith for a variety of reasons. Paul declared STAY AWAKE!!!! He reminded them to hold onto their faith by being brave and strong.
The words he wrote in that letter after telling these faithful people to be strong were, “EVERYTHING should be done in LOVE!” Quite the combination of themes, isn’t it? Strength, love, and faith.
As we approach Christmas 2023, this year’s Advent Season, and Thanksgiving … I am full of so many mixed emotions… energized thankfulness for my health, and concerns. What I have found is the constant I need, have needed, and will continue to hold onto with desperation, is my faith.
Yes, this is a year I have screamed at God, and also cowered before God in a hospital bed, not knowing … just not knowing. Even with my faith I needed God to lift me up and embrace me. You know, to let me know it was all ok … You might have heard me mention in a couple of recent sermons, ‘How great thou art!’
I am writing this particular article as an alert to you … not to your spouse nor your child. Not to your best friend nor the neighbor who gets everything right all the time. As your pastor, as a human being who was wondering about my own life’s life span, and frankly as a person of faith, I am sending out this alert hoping that you will be investing time as we get close to Christmas … with God. Your valuable time … your minutes or perhaps even seconds, because none of us knows what direction this journey will take. One day we are here doing many things and the next … well, let’s just hope we all have many days.
This past summer when I urged, “assigned,” and hoped that each of you would read the Twenty Third Psalm ‘once a week every week for the rest of your lives,’ I knew few would. The truth is, I also know that if you made that investment … suddenly you’d sense the need to find the still waters so that your soul could be restored. Friends, it is all about our relationship with God and whether one really exists. God is trying to provide a strong bond with us as individuals and also is hoping to direct us, because “The Lord keeps me alive. The Lord guides me in proper paths for the sake of the LORD’s good name.” That is the translation from the Common English Bible of Psalm 23 verse 3.
So my alert … my warning … my concern … and my prayer and hope this Advent season is that each of you associated with St. Paul’s United Methodist Church understands that time is fleeting. God is ready to take us on but that is our decision to make. It does not require moving to a monastery nor giving up all of your TV binge watching pleasures … just an understanding that the world is tugging at each of us just like it was doing to the Corinthians, leaving a clear choice to be made.
Are you brave enough? Strong enough? Do you sense your personal faith every day? Stay awake, friends, and seek out God’s grassy meadows so that God’s “goodness and faithful love will embrace you all the days of your life and you will live in the Lord’s house forever!”