The Last Sunday in the Church Year – Series B – Mark 13:24-37

Living From the Liturgy – Daily Meditation and Prayer for Nov. 22-28

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ himself, is fully aware that his voice is not the only voice that we listen to.

He is not naïve to the many voices that ring out in our hearts.

He is not ignorant to the seductive songs that are sung in this world.

He is not unware of that great catechist and teacher that we find in our sin and in the devil himself.

He is not in the dark when it comes to our listening, to what our ears want to hear, to where our hearts tend to follow.

This is why his words to us this day, in Mark chapter 13, are given with such urgency, crying out that we be kept awake, that we might remain alert, ready and watchful.

For here in the last section of our Gospel text, Jesus says, “What I say to you, I say to all, stay awake.”

On this Last Sunday in the Church Year, it is no small or trivial thing that the last words of Scripture that we read are these words, “Stay Awake.”

We might say in this way, that everything from Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, to his epiphany, his suffering, death, resurrection and life within the church would find their culmination in these crying and urgent words.

Stay awake.

And therefore, on this day of all days, we ought to ask the question, “Are we awake?”

Are we alert, watchful, ready and waiting for the coming of Christ?

Do we look on this day with despair and terror?

Do we scoff and whisper to ourselves that it will never come?

Do we listen to other voices?

Do we dance to different songs?

For it is no secret, to say that around every corner in this world and around every turn in this life, we find a sea of voices, experts, and teachers who are more than willing to tell us the answer of what it means to be alert and awake at the end of this life.

Consider the violence, turmoil, terror and uncertainties all around us.

Whether it’s the Paris attacks, the threat of ISIS, the poison of our politics or the instability of society that we fear lies hiding in the shadows, there is more than enough in this world, for us to be alert and awake to.

When we observe all of this violence, death and despair, perhaps we’re tempted to take on the cries of Chicken Little, running about, looking up to the heavens and screaming out that the sky is falling, that the end is near, that the world is over.

Is this what is means to be alert and awake?

Or maybe we flip on the TV and make our way to Christian television, where we find a so-called preacher selling us supplies for the end of the world, going on about blood moons, Biblical omens, and the terror of Christ’s second coming.

Is this what it means to be alert and awake?

Or perhaps we drown out the madness of the world for a bit and start listening to the voices in our hearts.

Maybe we wonder if our time is really best served sitting in uncomfortable church pews, listening to sermons that don’t quite ‘hit home’, gathered around people we don’t really like.

Maybe our time could be used better somewhere else.

Maybe if we were out exploring our passions, taking control of our lives, living our dreams, maybe then we would truly be alert and awake.

Or maybe we start humming along to the tune of the world.

Perhaps we begin to settle in with the discomfort, pain, and sadness that seems to permeate everything in this life.

Maybe we start to conclude that nothing ever is going to get any better, so we might as well get used to how things are now…we might as well start calling this life, true paradise.

Is this what it means to be alert and awake?

And if it isn’t, then what is it that Christ is calling us to?

Where you and I so often hear these words of Mark 13 as more work to do, more effort to put it, more sermons to try and not sleep through…Christ himself speaks them to you as pure comfort, pure faith and pure Gospel.

For remember that he speaks them to his own disciples. Remember that in three short days, the disciples will take a nap on the Mount of Olives. Remember that they will run away when the guards come. Remember that Peter will deny him before the rooster crows. Remember that they too will fall asleep and fall away.

No matter how much we think our perseverance will save us, no matter how much we assume our faith will not falter, or how our strength will not run out, we will always be found fast asleep when we do not behold how we are kept awake.

Christ does not demand from you more faithfulness, instead he urgently points for you to see from where your faith comes and continues to be fed, to be kept awake, alert, watchful and ready.

In recent years, a handful of celebrities and Christians have tried to make popular the phrase, “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian.”

As if to say, that what is given at this altar, in these Words and at this font can somehow be generated by ourselves.
That nothing is really accomplished here that cannot be given somewhere else.

That if we just believe enough, try enough, are sincere enough, that we will be kept awake to the end of all things.

Again, here in Mark 13, Jesus does not demand from you simply more sincerity or earnestness…no, he points to himself, to the gifts of life and sustenance that he has come to bring.

Here at this altar, you find not food for sleep, but the body and blood of Christ himself which guards you, sustains you, and keeps you awake in his life.

Here in this Word, you find not lullabies to drift off to bed, but the very voice of God to keep you watchful, to grant you His strength, to keep you from sleeping.

Here at this font, you find not a bath for relaxation, but a true and living water that has brought you out of the slumber of sin, out of the sleep of death and has jolted you awake with the righteousness of Christ.

Behold the Christ who comes to keep you awake.

Behold the crucified one who himself stood guard and kept watch even when you were sleeping.

Behold the true and living God who has brought you out of death, into his life, never to slumber again.

He knows there are many voices to listen to, he knows there are many songs to sing, but here he has given you his own, here he keeps you in faith, showing you where your strength and wakefulness is kept and heldfast.

So take and eat, be fed and well nourished, hear these words, be kept awake and at peace, be washed and given his watchfulness; he comes for you here, now, keeping you in his peace unto all eternity.

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.