SERMON FOR THIS WEEK
Sunday 3rd December
“Make us watchful and keep us faithful.”
(from a post communion prayer)
Sermon for Sunday 3rd December 2023
(With young people in mind)
By David Heffer
Luke 12: 35-40
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Today is the beginning of Advent and the words of the post communion prayer are; “Make us watchful and keep us faithful.”
I notice that in the last few years Meer cats have been very much to the forefront of advertising and in the cuddly toy department. I also noticed that in the wild they have a very good strategy for protection. While the others forage for food, one stands guard, very alert and watchful, looking all round for any danger that might be near. This behaviour is not entirely lost even in our comparatively safe countryside. Sometimes while all the other cows are lying down you might spot an odd one standing up. A piece of behaviour lost in time.
I am sure that most of us have been to a castle or somewhere like the Tower of London and have noticed that somewhere on the building is a tall structure towering over the rest –a watchtower. All through history, wherever people have settled, there has always been a place for a watchman to stand guard. Now there are two reasons why we need a watchman. One is of course to look for trouble and the second is to look for joy.
At this time of Advent, we need to be ready for both!
Jesus warns his disciples (that’s us) on many occasions about how easy it is to be tempted by the many attractions that the world around us offers. The world is a beautiful place but what a load of rubbish mankind has generated to try to spoil its beauty and that is why we should be watchful.
When the watchman sees danger, he calls out so that everyone can be prepared to combat what comes. It is often a matter of training to repel trouble. In the same way, when Jesus talks of watchfulness, as he does in the reading, his guidance and training keeps us safe in an often bewildering world. “I am the way, the truth and the life” says Jesus.
The second reason people needed a watchman that he was on the lookout for good news, the promise of good things to come. How wonderful it was when the man in the rigging of a boat on the ocean, after a long journey, calls out “Land Ahoy” good news indeed.
So we are called to be watchful for all that is good and shout the good news to all who need it. “Make us watchful and keep us faithful.”
I came across this quotation from an eminent politician speaking about America some years ago. Standing in his watchtower as it were, looking out at his nation: he warned of intolerance, injustice, indifference, intemperance and ingratitude. These he says lead to deterioration, defeat and disaster.
Picture a more positive scene when from his tower he might have proclaimed to all nations--Tolerance, Justice, Temperance, Gratitude and Compassion which in their turn lead to progress, growth and gain. It seems that in our world today there is more of the former than of the latter. Trouble or joy?
Jesus had lots of very serious conversations with his disciples and He demands that they be alert and stay watchful. Do you remember how in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus needed the support of his disciples, they fell asleep. It is so easy with this world’s pressures to lower our guard—how difficult it is to keep the faith-- and stay watchful.
We lit today the candle of HOPE: I expect that many of you know the myth of Pandora’s Box---How a young woman was given a gift of a beautiful box but she was never to open it weird as that seems. After some time she could not resist the temptation, so she opened the box and all the evils of the world poured out. She quickly closed it. It was said that fortunately at the bottom of the box was HOPE. This mythical tale reminds me of this world’s troubles; but of course our HOPE is in Christ Jesus who died to save the world from it’s sin.
Today we look forward to a wonderful celebration, the coming of God’s son into the world. “Make us watchful and keep us faithful.”
As we look for the Revelation of the Saviour of the world, may our view not be clouded by the Glitz and Glitter of so much of what we don’t need; but may we see clearly the gift of love, grace and peace coming over the Horizon to us this Advent tide. Make us watchful and keep us faithful. Amen
FROM PREVIOUS WEEKS