Advent 1, 2020
November 29, 2020
Fr. Philip Eberhart
THE CHALLENGE OF WOKENESS
Welcome to the New Year, Church! I am sooooo looking forward to being OUT of 2020 that maybe I'm rushing it a bit.
From the title this morning, "The Challenge of Wokeness" you may think that this is going to be a political sermon... again. But let me allay your fears today and let you know that this "WOKENESS" is about an actual awakening that both needs to happen, and at some level, is happening in the Church, BIG C!
For many, many years I've preached this first sermon of Advent, on the same need and the same opportunity. The last words of our Gospel reading from Mark this morning say it all, "KEEP AWAKE!!"
Friends, the times that we live in today, what with all the stuff, the pandemic, the societal unrest, the riots, the wokeness, the political games ... all require of us that we live with our eyes wide open. It was said of one group in the Old Testament that they "knew the times in which they lived." Today that is perhaps the greatest gift we can ask for from the Holy Spirit, that like those Men of Issachar, we might know the times that we are part of and how to respond to them.
The command of Jesus to KEEP AWAKE is not just a random wish that the Church would be more aware of its sleepy state. The fact is that we've been lulled to sleep over decades, especially here in America, by the culture and by the very prosperity that we believe we deserve to enjoy! "In the lap of luxury" is a phrase that conjures up a certain picture of us being coddled and spoiled, like a new baby with three sets of grandparents who live within 20 minutes!!
We have spared ourselves no luxury! There are certainly pockets of poverty, and we help those who are struggling along the way, but the overall picture of America and wealth is that we are at the top of the heap, even those who are at the bottom of the American wealth pyramid, are in the top 1 or 2% of the world. Why do you think that the "huddled masses yearning to be free" are "teeming on our shores?" America is still the Land of Opportunity, of Freedom ... and of Sleepiness!
WOKENESS, in this sense, is a heightened awareness of the forces that are at work in our systems, yes it does mean awareness of racism and injustice, but it means a great deal more in this context. We are in a WAR. We, THE CHURCH, are engaged in hand-to-hand combat, just like the picture painted for us by Paul in Ephesians 6. We need to be awake, in full battle fatigues, and ready to engage as a team in the warfare of the spiritual world that is raging for our culture today.
WOKENESS here, is having our eyes wide open to the UNSEEN that Paul speaks about as he recounted his own battle fatigue to the Corinthians.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Our WOKENESS is our understanding of what is real. Of the nature of the world we live in, of it's brokenness and need; awareness of our position and role as THE CHURCH; engagement with the purposes of God in the midst of the times that we find ourselves living in; AND an awakened WISDOM that comes from THE FEAR OF THE LORD. We must understand WHOM it is that we approach and deal with through Prayer, the power of our weapons of warfare, the need for the armor of His Righteousness.
WOKENESS means additionally that we are aware of our own weakness and lack of strength in this fight. THE BATTLE IS THE LORD'S! It has always been His and will always be HIS ALONE. We use the word JUST sometimes mistakenly in regard to prayer! "Well, all we can do is just pray." Never do that again!!!
Friends, in this challenging time, PRAYER is the primary Weapon of our Warfare! It is not something that is secondary - its our BIG GUN! Inside the Kremlin in Moscow sets a cannon that was fired once - its so big that the firing once, broke it. It stands nearly 15 feet above my head. That is the size of prayer, though not its effect!! Our big gun WORKS.
I carry a quote with me from Peter Kreeft:
"I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives!'
So friends, this morning on the Church's New Year's Day, I challenge you to be WOKE! TO STAY WOKE. TO ACT AS ONE WHO IS WOKE! AND FULLY SO.
LET US PRAY:
#109. For Watchfulness Lancelot Andrewes
Thou, who with thine own mouth hast told us that at midnight the bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, “The bridegroom cometh!” may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, or forgetful of the souls for whom he died, for whom we watch and pray. And save us, O Lord. Amen.
#97. Preparation for Personal Prayer
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.