We’ve entered into the dark days. When the sun goes down at five pm. It’s difficult to wake up in the morning, when you hear the alarm, to get rolling, grab your coffee, pull on your clothes, and face the day. Easier to stay in bed. Easier to stay asleep.
The world is in, not only physical darkness, but spiritual darkness. The last thing on most people’s minds is what God wants you to do today. People spend their lives drunk in their video games and their shopping addictions, in a drug-induced haze or a workaholic’s iPhone addiction. People are glued to the little electric lights in their palms, and don’t have time for the Light of the World.
We live in a spiritually unaware world that pays little attention to anything that cannot be seen.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul talks of the Roman motto, “Peace and security,” pax et securitas in Latin. People placed their faith in the Roman military to bring them peace and security, just as today, people implicitly place their faith in the government, in healthcare, in financial security,
and don’t take the time to consider a relationship with God.
The world is asleep.
The world is busy making plans for 2016, busy buying presents and plane tickets, busy living in spiritual darkness. Busy planning for the future, without regard that Jesus may come back tomorrow.
In San Bernadino, two shooters killed fourteen people at a civil service center.
But beyond that—four hundred children will die of measles today—a totally preventable disease.
A war is going on between darkness and light. And the world is asleep.
But a new day is coming.
If you believe Scripture, there is a day about to dawn when every mountain will be made low, and every valley lifted up, when the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
In Advent, we prepare not only for the coming of Christ at Christmas, but for the coming of Christ on the day of the Lord. Right now, the world is asleep, but in the darkness of sleep the dawn will break upon it without warning. They will be flooded with light and all their deeds will be revealed.
Are you ready? Are you watching? Will you be awake?
1 Thessalonians says the day of the Lord is coming like a thief in the night. In our Revelations Bible study this fall, we studied what the Bible has to say about the end times. And there are certain signs to look for. The re-establishment of Israel has been seen by many as a sign that the end times are near. But, as Paul chides the Thessalonians, we can’t know the day or the hour that the day of the Lord will come. In 2011, Harold Camping of California Family Radio predicted the end of the world on May 21, 2011, then October 21, 2011. He wasn’t reading 1 Thessalonians 5. It is not ours to know when that day is coming.
A thief in the night is something no one expects, something dangerous, unannounced, and uncontrollable. You cannot know when a thief will enter your home. But you can be prepared.
Are you spiritually awake?
Are you ready?
Do you live your life as though the day of the Lord could be tomorrow?
Do you spend your money as though judgment day is imminent?
Would your relationships with family and friends stand up in the light?
When Jesus comes back, will he greet you as a familiar friend?
Have you used the time you have on this earth to share Christ with the world?
Is your faith awake?
We in the church are called to be light sleepers. While the world walks around spiritually asleep, drunk on sin, drunk on the pleasures of the flesh, we are called to be aware and alert, spiritually ready for Christ to come at any time. We Christians are called to be continually dressed and ready to meet God.
I think of firefighters. In the event of a fire, even in the middle of the night, loud alarms will go off and lights will flash all around the firefighters. They have everything ready to get up in the case of a fire. It’s called being gear-ready. They sleep on a hair trigger.
This is how Christians are called to live.
We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. We need to be gear-ready, always watching,  spiritually alert, one eye open, our faith awake.
Paul, too, talked about being gear-ready. He described the Christian as like a soldier, And listed the armor we must wear every day. Because while the world is asleep, we know that we are truly at war, that every day, darkness and evil are going to attack us.
We see the news. We know that evil lurks everywhere. We know that we have a job to do every day: to share the light in the midst of darkness. We know we must live gear ready to be on God’s front lines.
Paul names the body armor we must wear to fight for the light.
We put on the breastplate of faith and hope.
As a Christian, you are called to guard your heart.
The world is going to attack your heart. Difficult people. Painful relationships. The weariness of the daily grind.
And fear. Always fear.
Fear of illness. Fear of terrorism. Fear of financial collapse.
The world is going to attack your heart.
Be gear ready.
Put on the breastplate of faith and hope.
Come to church.
Arm yourself with faith.
Renew your hope.
Read your Bible every day.
Don’t put it off till tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.
Pray to Jesus every day.
Don’t put it off till tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.
Guard your heart with faith, and guard your heart with hope, and you will be ready for whatever comes.
As a Christian, you’re also called to guard your head. Paul called it putting on the helmet of salvation.
The world is going to attack your mind. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
The world will sell you on faithlessness, on nihilism, on doubt and fear and disbelief. The world will sell you on the false peace and security, the pax et securitas, of wealth and power. The world will attack your mind, telling you that this product or this politician can save you.
Keep your helmet on.
Your salvation in Christ will save you, and nothing else.
Christians cannot live half asleep anymore. We cannot go about this life as though we are in the comfortable majority. Truly committed Christians are a minority in this culture. We have to, each one of us, go into this world with our armor on and our eyes open, because Christ is coming soon, and it’s our task to wake everyone else up.
Around us, people are in need of Christ. People need to know they are loved, that they are precious in God’s sight, and God wants more for them than the empty promises of this world. As people who are awake, aware, and gear-ready, we need to be looking for them. We need to be ready and awake.
All around us, people are dying, people are drowning, and no one sees.
I read a story in an internet article called “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”:
The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect.
Drowning people are unable to yell, and physically, they can’t splash. Instead, they quietly slip under the surface of the water, and their arms instinctively push outward, not up.
But the captain was ready. The captain was awake. And so only he could save her.
Stay awake.
Be ready.
Get your helmet on.
There’s no one else.
God has a job for you this Advent.
It’s not decorating.
It’s not baking cookies.
It’s sharing the light in the midst of darkness.
It’s nothing less than helping to save the world.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.



  1. – My favorite Christmas tradition is going to our friends home on Christmas eve. The tradition has morphed a bit as we all got older, but when we were small, all of the dads at the party would (after a little “liquid enm2arugecent&#82o1;) perform the Temptations version of Silent Night. Soooooo Hilarious!!

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