Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ADVENT I - An Awakened Church

ADVENT I
NOV 27, 2016
FR. PHIL EBERHART
____________________

AN AWAKENED CHURCH

I would like to take a little poll this morning...  no nothing political ...  how many of you use an alarm clock or an alarm on your cell phone to wake up with?   OK.    

How many have multiple alarms set?  OK.   Hold up the number of alarms you need!   from 1 to 10;   we're not going to take our shoes off this morning!

Is there anyone who wakes up JUST before their alarm goes off and sits there and waits for it?  (hand up!)

I just wondered if I was the only one! 

I hate alarms, especially some other people's alarms!  not mentioning names...  multiple alarms that are among the most annoying in the world!  That are completely ignored until I have to go shut them off!   OOPS.   (smile)   not mentioning names.

The point here is that we all use alarms sometimes and we all are familiar with the need to awaken from our sleeping state.

Let's look at our readings for this first Sunday of ADVENT...

Romans 13:11-14
You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.

Matthew 24:36-44
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 unexpected hour.”

Don't you love it when someone asks you "how did you sleep?"   "Well, I don't really know!  I was asleep!"  So .... good I guess.

Sleep is a state of restful unconsciousness!  resting from activity!  

Definition.com has several entries:
1/  a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness;
2/  to be dormant, quiescent, or inactive
3/  to be careless or unalert; allow one's alertness, vigilance, or attentiveness to lie dormant
4/  to lie in death

Its opposite in scripture is the word that Jesus uses!  to AWAKEN or to STAND WATCH;  BE ON ALERT.

Do you remember the old movie WAR GAMES and the numbers on the wall at NORAD?  DEF CON 1 to 5
DEF CON 5 is Peace and DEF CON 1 is World War III !!

Let me take another poll...  How many of you feel that Paul was right?
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. 

And if Paul was right, how much more are we "nearer" now 2000 years later?
Does this cause us to live differently? 
Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness,
not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Or have we gone back to sleep:  Have we hit the snooze button?   AGAIN.??

The question for us today is "What does it take =  what will it take ... to awaken the Church in America?"
Will we have to be at DEF CON 1 for us to wake up?  Will a meteor have to strike the planet?  Will the judgement of God have to come?

Friends, the Church around the world is awake!  How do I know this... I know them!  Personally.
But we, here in America, are still asleep, or at the very best, in that state of slumber between the 1st and 4th alarms!!
Our nation is in a state that it hasn't seen in over a century - about to tear itself apart.  
We've just come through an unspeakable election cycle - and I won't even comment about the outcome for fear that a riot will break out here this morning!
We have placed our hope in a political answer, when there is no political answer.  There is no savior at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!

What does an awakened church even look like?

We have prayed for decades for a revival;  for transformation;  we've watched videos about it happening in places around the world,
even a few places, isolated towns, small towns in N. Calif or Kentucky or Minnesota.  But what about here?  What about Denver?
What about us here... at REZ?

Are we awake?
Are we watching?

Jesus challenged the disciples to "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation, for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."  He said this to them while they were in the Garden, hours before his betrayal and trial and crucifixion.  Watch and Pray!

This is the definition of anti-sleep!  It's all the same word Jesus uses... 20+ times in the NT, throughout the Gospels and scattered through the Epistles stands this repeated warning sign:  BE ALERT - STAND WATCH - STAY UP - PRAY and WATCH...

HE's COMING ... like a thief in the night!

Are we awake?
Are we watching?

Are YOU awake?
Are YOU watching?

We need to heed the warning, friends.  We need to avail ourselves of prayer!  
We must activate ourselves in The Word of God!!  We have to be able to Hear his Voice!
We must be made alive by The Spirit of God!  We must have His power in our lives.
We must take His Presence with us from this place, to our homes and into the world.
We are to be Mobile Arks of the Covenant!

There are multiple ways to do these things, especially in this season of ADVENT...

1.  Pray ...  figure out a way.  Make it an urgent option!  Get up earlier - 5 even 4 am!  This is serious business.
2.  Pray ...  come together with others to do it.  Prayer gatherings, assemblies, prayer partners, conference calls.
3.  Pray ...  take it with you.  Wherever you go, watch for opportunities to pray.  Ambulances.  Police.  News reports. Neighbors. Waiters.
                                Pray for churches you pass on your way.  Pray for people God brings to mind.  Pray for me!!  God knows I need it.

Do you see the pattern?

Prayer is not preparation for the battle, friends.  IT IS THE BATTLE!

LET'S PRAY:

LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON US SINNERS!
LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF DAVID, SEND US YOUR HEALING POWER!
LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF MAN, SEND US INTO THE WORLD!

LORD, WE ARE IN NEED OF YOUR HELP.  AS WE COME INTO THIS SEASON
OF ADVENT, SEND US YOUR SPIRIT TO GUIDE AND DELIVER US, TO FREE 
AND EMPOWER US, TO AWAKEN AND READY US FOR SERVICE IN YOUR
KINGDOM.  BRING YOUR KINGDOM ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, THROUGH
US, LORD.  USE US AS YOUR AMBASSADORS OF RECONCILIATION WHEREVER
WE GO.  GUIDE US STEP BY STEP EVERY DAY.  AND ALL THIS FOR THE FAME
OF YOUR NAME, JESUS AND FOR THE COMING OF THE KING OF KINGS AND
THE LORD OF LORDS.  AMEN

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