Yesterday I went home at lunch and did an hour ride on my bicycle. As I cooled-down I sat on the couch and found myself drifting off in a very short (10 min.) little power nap. I wish I could say I plan and do this every day. I think it might make me more productive, but usually I am moving form one place to another. But since Wednesday is a long day (7am-8pm plus homework after 8pm) I didn't feel too guilty. Sometimes sleeping is good. But sometimes sleeping is not so good.
The New Testament talks about sleeping. The message is pretty clear ... be alert! "So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But
let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of
faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our
salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." Paul writes these words to the church in Thessalonia (Chapter 5) in a time of strife, turmoil and darkness. It is not unlike our times. Last evening, while we worshiped God and studied His word from Philippians, a church in Charleston, South Carolina was attacked by a vicious, troubled and evil presence in the form of a young man. Nine African-American believers were killed, including their pastor.
Two comments about this story. First, we never know when that day is coming when Christ returns or when we will go on to be with God. So be "clearheaded." We serve a loving and perfect God in a fallen world where people are capable on atrocities we wouldn't ever consider possible. We must be awake and sober to these events and be listening for how God would have us respond. The mayor of Charleston encouraged his community to embrace and uphold this little church in their grief, loss and recovery. We can pray, be aware of our surroundings and become those people who respond by making our presence in the life and work of God's church felt, seen, persistent and awake! Come alive Church ... now is the time for God's people to shine!
Second, we (as a nation) have become asleep and inattentive to the work of Satan through drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence. Our congregation has been hit directly by this as we have been robbed of our belongings and the memories those belongings represented. I would be willing to bet (and I think law enforcement would agree) all of these thefts (my guitar, the Navajo mission team) are related to drugs, alcohol or the violent threads being woven through the fabric of society. People's possessions, including precious life, have become things to be taken if the perpetrator has a need, desire or whim to take them. Personal desires have trumped the good of society. Wake up, especially you fathers and mothers, and tell your kids that this is not how to do life. Wake up church and teach that the world is not about self, getting what YOU want from God ... life is about God getting what HE needs from the people HE created. Pray ... act ... love those that have been hurt and oppressed ... teach ... learn ... become examples/witnesses ... and do what the United Methodist Discipline leads pastors/leaders to do ... oppose evil wherever it presents itself. The violence in our society isn't against those other people ... it is against people that God created. THEY are our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers ... part of that true vine called Christ. Randy