A Season of Awakening
Indianapolis First Friends
Pastor Bob Henry
December 3, 2017
Ephesians 5:14-16 (VOICE)
13-14 When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing,
Awake, you sleeper!
Rise from your grave,
And the Anointed One will shine on you.
15 So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don’t run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! 16 Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times.
If you grew up in a different faith tradition than among Friends or Quakers, you may have been introduced to the season of Advent. The actual word, “Advent,” comes from the Latin and means “coming.” I grew up in liturgical churches which all celebrated these four weeks leading up to Christmas day as a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus and his birth - with churches arrayed in royal purples or blue for the Coming King and an Advent Wreath with four candles to count down the Sundays until the big celebration.
If you did not know, Advent is observed by many Christian churches including some Quakers. I personally have considered it one of the most Quakerly seasons in the more formal church year because it is known to focus on expectant waiting and preparation - two things that Quakers consider very important to their faith.
As I have been pondering this time of expectant waiting and preparation this year, I have had a different word that begins with the letter “A” on my mind.
That word is “awakening.”
A word that has become popular in several circles over the last couple of years. If you are a Star Wars fan like me, you will obviously remember it’s use in the title of the 7th installment of the franchise, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” and then all the subsequent trailers stating that “There has been an awakening.”
Yet, if you take some time and look into the definition of “awakening” you will come across this important definition, which I believe may describe this time leading up to Christmas even more appropriately.
The definition says that awakening is “coming into existence or awareness.”
What if we looked at the next couple weeks as a Season of Awakening? While others celebrate Advent - First Friends will celebrate a Season of Awakening.
Doesn’t it seem appropriate when thinking about Jesus being born into this world? And wasn’t Jesus coming into existence and bringing a new awareness to our world?
The incarnation of Jesus was awaking the world to a new way of seeing. It says in scripture that he was reconciling the people to God and to their neighbors and making them aware of the importance of unconditional love.
As well, this coming of Jesus was shedding a new light on things. We often refer to Jesus as the Light of the World. Jesus was born into this world to shed light on our dark places and to awaken the light within each of us.
What if each Christmas Light that we decorate our homes and trees with and each candle that is lit was a reminder of Jesus’ life and ministry and how we too are called to live that awakened life in this world. It just might have us seeing our lives, and especially, our neighbors in a different light (pun intended).
This was exactly what Jesus spoke of in his first sermon in his hometown synagogue. Listen to his words as he quoted from Isaiah.
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
Jesus was announcing an awakening!
He awoke the people of his day not only to see just the prisoners, the blind, the burdened and battered (no, that was only the beginning). Jesus would go on to awaken us to the poor, the widows, the orphans, the women, the outcasts, the neglected, and the people from other cultures and races - even the despised Samaritans or what soon he would categorize as all the gentiles (non-Jews).
Folks, Jesus was awakening a world to God’s Kingdom where ALL people were included and respected, and loved. The veil would be torn and the table set for us to commune together. This would have been amazingly good news to a world that was suffering from oppressive militant governments, who thought women were possessions, who swept the sick, the diseased, the crippled, and the unclean outside the city gates.
Hmmm...sadly that sounds an awful lot like our world, still today.
Yet, I am optimistic. I sense an awakening happening in our world. God is shedding again his light on our darkness. His ways are coming into existence again and we are becoming aware of the hurt we have caused by not being able to see our neighbors as ourselves. God is awakening our inner lights, he is fanning our flames, and calling us to be his ambassadors to a hurting world.
This morning as we head into waiting worship, ask yourselves,
How am I preparing for the awakening that is happening in this world? Who around me is being neglected or treated poorly? Who is in need of a little respect or a blessing of love this Christmas? Who needs an awakening?
May these be our gifts this Awakening Season and throughout this year!