And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake. (Mark 13:37)
If you have ever laid in bed in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, wishing sleep would come, the admonition to "keep awake" might make you laugh. For those of us who sometimes struggle with insomnia the problem is not keeping awake. The problem is falling asleep.
I wonder if that is not the contrast Jesus is trying to make here. Perhaps this points to yet another case where we have everything backwards, namely we are awake when we ought to be sleeping and we are sleeping when we ought to be awake.
Here in Mark's gospel, Holy Week is about to begin. The very next line in Mark says, "It was two days before the Passover..." From there we follow Jesus' path straight to the cross. Chapter 13 in Mark is a short break in the narrative where Jesus/Mark addresses the second coming and the end times. For that reason, this chapter is often referred to as, "the little apocalypse." Jesus' followers, and Mark's community, wanted to know how all of this was going to end? When would this worldly suffering cease and God's kingdom on earth be fulfilled once and for all?
To which Jesus said, "But about that day or hour no one knows..." So just keep awake.
I often hear people claiming, "The end is near." They point to events around the world - wars, plagues, natural disasters, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem - and they say, "Look, it's happening. It's the end times!" Obviously, they failed to read the 13th chapter of Mark ("no one knows," Jesus said). And so they are wide awake to meaningless nonsense as people have been predicting the end since before Nostradamus, but they are fast asleep when it comes to carrying forward the ministry of Jesus Christ and catching glimpses of the kingdom of God among us.
Keep awake to the needs of the world around us; the hungry child, the homeless veteran, the creation "groaning in travail." Do not fall asleep to the least of these our brothers and sisters who are sick and lonely and wrongly imprisoned. Keep awake.
And keep awake, too, to those little signs of God's kingdom that are around us every day. The child's laugh, the sickness healed, the beauty of a warm fall day. Do not fall asleep to what is all around you while waiting for what may be, we don't know when. Keep awake.
Sleep is a wonderful thing and studies show most of us are not getting enough. Perhaps we will sleep easier when we are awake to the kingdom of God for which we work and wait, here and now.
Worship This Week
Thursday, November 12, 6:30pm, North Room
Sunday, November 15, 10am, Sanctuary and on Facebook Live
(In-person worship, inside. Masks required and please act responsibly)
This Week: Beloved, Love One Another
Keep In Prayer:
Ellie Justice, Don Long, Alvin Shelley, Dee Kuhlman
Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne