Current Sermon: The Value of Watchfulness and the Coming of Jesus!
By the Reverend Kent Clise
December 1, 2013 (First Sunday in Advent)
I. Advent and Preparation:
Today marks the beginning of a new Christian year. This is the season of Advent. This is the first Sunday, or Lord’s Day, in the Christian Year. Starting today we have the privilege of telling the story of salvation in Jesus Christ all over again.
There is the prophecy foretelling the coming of the Messiah and Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. Advent is the perfect time for believers to prepare for the Coming of Jesus Christ. Advent is a season that is meant to be marked by personal actions designed to prepare each of us spiritually.
II. The Coming of Jesus Christ:
Too few of us take seriously the Coming of Jesus. The Coming of Jesus is a strange idea, far removed from our existence.
In the words of Frederick Beuchner;
“There is no part of the New Testament Faith more alien to our age than the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus. This dream of holiness returning in majesty…It is alien because we associate this teaching with the lunatic fringe…”
There is a Walker Percy novel entitled The Second Coming which is a tale of a man named Will Barrett who does some interesting things:
a. At the end of the story Barrett corners a priest and asks; "Do you really believe that Jesus will come again?"
III. The Issue of Indifference and Lack of Watchfulness:
A. Lack of Interest:
A woman, who carried an evangelistic fervor at my undergraduate university, once walked into a meeting of the Young Republicans Club and asked the club president;
“Do you know that Jesus is coming again?”
His response was; “so, what?”
B. Seems Unsophisticated:
One of the Presidents of the United States once asked Billy Graham, if it was true that the Bible taught that Jesus was coming again? Just Imagine! It is difficult to imagine a well-educated, socially-sophisticated, politically-astute person not even knowing whether or not this idea of the coming of Jesus is a Biblically-based teaching.
C. A Fable of Satan’s Work:
There is an old fable about three demons and Satan plotting to snatch the souls of humanity. The demons each presented their plans to their master by turns.
1. The first demon said, “I’ll go and tell the people there is no heaven.” “That won’t fool many,” was Satan’s reply.
2. The second demon said, “I’ll go and tell them there is no hell.” “You won’t have much luck with that approach either,” commented Satan.
3. and then, the third demon said, “I’ll go and tell them there is no hurry.” “Go!” Satan said, “You’ll get thousands of good believers with that lie.”
Therefore let’s be clear…This season marks the time when we can prepare to receive Jesus Christ in a fresh and new way into our hearts, minds and souls. Our challenge is to prepare. We improve our chances for good preparation when we practice the necessity of being watchful.
I. Exposition of the text
Now; let’s consider our lesson. Jesus invites us to look simultaneously backward and forward. Connect our history and future through the present. Today is a gift. That is why we call today the present…! Jesus’ invitation, in our text, reveals the twin thieves of faith.
These twin thieves are regret over yesterday, and; fear about tomorrow. Jesus suggests that we reject, combat and defeat the spiritual lethargy which causes us to become complacent about the present Jesus calls upon us to seize the day which is before us and link yesterday and tomorrow through today. This is the day that the Lord has made…rejoice and be glad!
This is the day that can permit us to witness the Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus implores us to be attentive, alert and watchful. Get ready. Get on our spiritual tip-toes!
Jesus reinforces this central point by discussing the time in Noah’s life leading up to the flood. Jesus describes those pre-flood days as days of intemperate living and a preoccupation with the events of the culture. Noah’s common life is marked with a lack of expectation. Noah and his people have lost any sense of a future. In we see the future as having little to no consequence then there is no point to become well prepared….! Any responsibility for being prepared is completely lost on Noah’s people.
Jesus then continues this theme…! Jesus says; “In his day, look about you, men and women.” This day is a reference to the time when Jesus will come. Two people will be working in the fields and one will be called and one will be left. Two women will be working at the mill grinding meal for their family and one will be called and one will be left.
Those people who are called and those people who are left will be differentiated by one thing. The difference will be the degree of watchfulness in their hearts. The called have a watchful heart. The left behind have given up any sense of anticipation for the future.
Jesus directs us, “Keep awake!” We must be ready, for there is no way of predicting when the Son of Man will come, but we must be ready.
II. Illustrations of being ready.
a. Air-traffic controller:
Almost all of us will know or love someone who will travel by air to join with family in celebrating at Christmas. We all pray that the air-traffic controllers who are responsible for those flights will be attentive.
An attentive air-traffic controller exemplifies what Jesus means for a believer to be watchful. This is exactly what Jesus wants.
b. Parent with toddler:
Recall that precious moment your child took her first unsteady wobbly steps. You where there and you watched. You were attentive for two reasons. In case your child stumbled, you wanted to be prepared to catch your child if necessary.
And you also wanted just to relish the moment. You wanted to celebrate the courage and the steps and signs of a new and growing life.
Years ago I walked along the golf course, which bordered our home in St. Louis, with our first-born son. He was new to walking. He had only been walking for about two weeks. He was intently watching carefully where he walked.
His view of his world was to watch for stones and uneven ground which could trip him and cause him to stumble and to fall. His eyes were down on the ground. My other hand held the leash attached to our family dog. We walked and talked.
Then, without warning, a jumbo jet flew overhead. To this very day I still get a charge out of planes in flight. On a trip to New York City I still crank my head at Detroit Metro, Newark and LaGuardia airports to watch the big birds take off and land.
So, I looked up and exclaimed several times, “Son, look at the plane.” By the time my son was comfortable looking up in the proper direction of the plane; the plane was out of sight. He had missed his chance to see his first plane.
My son was unprepared did not expect to look up and see something as wondrous as a jumbo jet in flight. We miss many things because we are unprepared to see them or receive them.
I. We do demonstrate the ability to prepare:
We clearly have the ability to prepare. I have three weddings next summer. All of the brides have chosen the venue for their reception. They have the orchestra/band or disc jockey for the reception. Dresses have all been ordered. They have sampled an average of 19 menu items. Oh yeah…then they decided to get their pastor…!
We can plan when it matters to us! Even our beloved family pets can plan and count. If you don’t think so try putting five milk bones in your pocket and give your dog just two of those bones and see what happens…! Now just watch your dog become alive, alert and execute a plan! Amen!
II. Let’s be attentive. Jesus is coming.
This is what Jesus means when he says, “be awake.” God wants us to be Watchful, Attentive and Expectant. Watchful, attentive and expectant hearts are habitually alert. Be attentive. Jesus promises, and I affirm; our commitment to be attentive will provide us a vast spiritual experience.