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First Reading – Romans 13: 11-14 (The Message)
Reader: 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 the 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!
Second Reading – Matthew 24: 36-44 (NRSVUE)
Reader: But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so, too, will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken, and one will be left. Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 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. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
27 November 2022
The Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter
Mathew 24:36-44, Romans 13:11-14
What is time? According to Einstein, Time is the 4th dimension. To describe anything you need a location in space [length, width, height] or [latitude, longitude and altitude] and in time. With these 4 pieces of information, we can identify an “Event.” Jesus was born [became incarnate: i.e. human] in Bethlehem when a star appeared in the sky …. An event! We are a little unsure about the date, but the Magi understood they had to get moving if they were to be part of the Christ “event”.
Human beings can only occupy one location at any time. Jesus was completely human – for 33 years our Biblical account never says that he was seen in 2 places at the same moment. However, Jesus was completely divine and has been present throughout time beginning with creation and will be in time until the end of time! Christ Jesus is present with us even now. Time is an interesting concept.
What will you do with time this week?
Yesterday at 2:50 I ran up the stairs here at church and my Fitbit digital watch was doing the jig on my wrist to signify it had recorded 10,000 steps! I had been using time since 8 in the morning to get here and prepare the sanctuary for our worship event!
The busy-ness of the holiday season can overrun the sense of the sacred. Will you be BUSY this week…. The irony is that setting apart time for connection with the sacred gets pushed aside in order to create the trappings of what is supposed to be the season of celebrating the incarnation of the Holy!
Advent as a liturgical season has taken on the concept of “waiting” as a predominant theological idea. It is as if we get to the first Sunday of Advent and all of a sudden, we are back to a time when Jesus is not present “yet.”
This Advent we will journey toward Christmas by emphasizing the gift of being awake to the “now” … the gift of sacred time with God, with each other, and with those in need of Hope.
“Sacred” means “set apart” Thus “Sacred time” is time “set apart” for our relationship with God: the one who is “omni-temporal”.
Before the Christ “event” in Jerusalem… God’s people awaited the establishment of the Kingdom – they got bored, they misunderstood, they chose lesser Gods – so Jesus – the “Christ event” was God’s act of reconciliation – a wake-up call, an invitation to continue to be creators in relationship with God. God who was in creation from the beginning of time poured God-self into Jesus to rescue creation.
Richard Rohr, in a work called The Universal Christ invites us to see the unique “Christ event” as the fullness of everything, always and already present. Into this “Christ-soaked” world Jesus was born.
Perhaps what we really wait for is ourselves–to fully know the presence of the sacred reflected in everything and in us. So in a sense, we can say that we “wait,” but the waiting is an active revealing if we will only say yes to the invitation to an “archetypal spiritual journey” into the idea that we are all “en Cristo,” moving from what we thought we always knew to what we now fully recognize (page 40, Universal Christ).
The time of reflection/contemplation at the beginning of each worship experience this year may feel welcome for some and a bit fidgety for others. Sometimes we feel discomfort when we slow down or try to relax, empty, and just “be.” We more easily translate being “awake” as doing something. What if “attentiveness” and “keeping awake” was less about hyper-vigilance and more about allowing a non-anxious stance for this season where awe and wonder take the lead? A time in which our attentiveness is geared to recognizing the reflected light of Christ (“the day is near”)?
In this time before Christmas, we are not “waiting” for Jesus, but we are practicing “attentiveness” to the Holy reflected in the people and nature around us. We can let things be mysterious, we can wonder, we can open our hearts to Christ present in our lifetime. This Sunday we celebration Jesus: The Hope of the World. As mystics have known in every faith practice: contemplation allows us to approach the “Sacred”.
The scriptures for this week can conjure up anxiety or confident hope. Perhaps you were aware of the “Left Behind” series from the 1990s and early 21st Century [1995-2007] that focuses on the Matthew passages at v.39 and following… This apocalyptical, doomsday drama can cloud the confidence that is described beautifully in Rohr’s Advent reflections:
“The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves.” [repeat]
How will we engage the idea that all of time is “pregnant” and full of the possibility for reflecting the sacred?
We must stop in a moment and notice it- time is “pregnant” and full of the possibility for reflecting the sacred.
What does it mean to be pregnant: to be full of possibilities.
Sacred time is full of possibilities that we haven’t seen ….
We can Marvel at something.
Take a deep breath. Light a candle. Listen to favorite music.
Speak of the deepest things we know with a friend.
“Spend” a bit of time to make life better for someone or some place. Any of these activities are the way we turn what is often a busy season into a journey toward deeper connection to the universal Christ.
Rohr reminds us, we are never actually separated from the presence of God–from the sacred–except in our mind’s incessant activity.
“I have never been separated from God, nor can I be, except in my mind.” (Page 44, The Universal Christ)