1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
So stay awake, keep watch, keep vigil, be vigilant, for the hour is at hand. You don’t want to be caught sleeping, caught unawares, with your pants down, unable to go out and meet Christ when He comes like thief in night. No one knows when a thief will come. If you did you’d be awake, watching, ready to ward the thief off, shotgun in hand, police on speed dial.
Well we know He’s coming. Therefore be ready to meet Him. Be vigilante. Keep His cross in your hands like that shotgun, that wards off the thief. Keep your life in the light of His cross, in the glory of His salvation, so that He won’t sneak up on you & steal your eternal life from you. For even the wise, commonsense bridesmaids fell asleep because the Groom tarried so long. You’ve been warned about the wait. Be ready for it.
For life drags on. The world wears on. Things continue day after day, whether its one tragedy or suffering after another sapping your energy to watch or whether it’s the soul-crushing boredom of this plastic, materialistic world or the day-to-day drudgery causing you to doze.
We get spiritually bored or exhausted. We doze off. Which means we stop being vigilant in faith. We stop coming to church. We stop thinking about or looking forward to Our Lord’s return. We stop living in love for neighbour as either the drudgery or the suffering tempt us to just live for ourselves and the moment, with no thought for others or the Lord’s return. So you get lazy in faith. You sleep-in on Sundays. You keep your money for you. You don’t give it to the work of the Lord and His Church. You stop being so concerned at work and in your family about the people God has given you to love and serve. After all, you’ve put in years of drudgery and for what? For nothing. Your kids don’t seem to respect you. They certainly don’t value what you do. They don’t listen to you, they write you off when you tell them they need to come to church. Even the people at church don’t value what you do. They all seem so apathetic. So what’s the point?
I know those temptations hit all of you. And you’ve probably even started acting on these thoughts. Repent. For this leads to spiritual slumber, spiritual apathy. And that’s the first step to spiritual or eternal death.
Repent. For you are baptized. You are clothed in light. You are not of the night. You are not of the drunken, partying crowd; those whose life is only about pleasure, who live for the weekend so they can party it up and forget their drudgery or their suffering. No. We are of the day. That means we have time to work for even the night is light to us for we have been clothed in the Light of God’s righteousness. And our works of love in the Lord though housed in drudgery of the day-to-day, and the suffering of this valley of the shadow of death bring the light of our Lord’s love into this twilight world. We’ve been surrounded by His love. We’ve had His Spirit poured into our hearts. We walk in His Light.
So we are not mindless creatures of the night, animals of instinct, people without sense. We are soberminded, judging things accurately, especially ourselves. We are self-controlled. And, if you aren’t: repent. Pray for this fruit of the Spirit. For in these days you need that fruit of the Spirit. You need the clearheaded reason of the Spirit filling your mind.
Because all of this spiritual foolishness and drunken partying is emptyheadedness. And just as overindulging on the blessed nectars of the fruits of the vine and the earth will cause you to pass out and sleep the sleep of the dead so that you your memory has gaps in it where you can not even comprehend what happened til you hear the stories the next day or you see the pictures, so both actual physical drunkenness and the equivalent spiritual stupor of apathy lead you to the empty-headed idiocy of spiritual sleep. And knowing the Lord is coming at anytime like a thief to snatch away salvation from those not watching, you don’t want to slumber, to miss the Bridegroom’s final call.
So stay spiritually awake. Don’t let it happen. Be clothed in your breastplate of faith and God’s Love. Be fitted with the helm of salvation. For being of the day, we are spiritually ready, waiting, holding vigil, watching for the Lord’s coming. That means we permanently reside in the spiritual daytime, not the night. So the Lord’s coming is not a surprise to us, for the night is not night to you. Your armor of light, is better than any night vision goggles or headset and it enables you to see the Lord as He sneaks up on those who aren’t ready, and it enables you to help them! For in faith you are ready.
And even if you should happen to fall asleep God’s Word has made you wise. So hang onto the plain truth of God’s Word. Hang onto Christ crucified for you. For He is your light in the darkness. And whether you should be spiritually awake or asleep Christ is your readiness. So that we will live with Him eternally through His resurrection victory over sin, even our sinful apathy and stupor.
Christ is your light in the darkness. He is the oil in your lamp. He is the extra oil you need when you fall asleep waiting for His coming. He is your ticket to the wedding feast. He is the one who ushers you in. He makes the night day and the darkness of your own sin, bright with His forgiveness.
In Jesus name, Amen.
---Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON