Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Awakening

Jesus is always telling his disciples and the crowds that gather around him to keep awake.

Right to the end, even in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is still trying to convince his friends to stay awake with him, to "watch and pray."

And they don't.
Or they can't.

Jesus preaches the need for watchfulness. This is often interpreted in evangelical circles and pulpits in terms of "the last days," the rapture, the second coming of Jesus, etc.

Certainly, Jesus is speaking about the coming of the Son of Man.

But isn't the Son of Man Jesus himself?

Jesus says, "About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven nor the Son" (Matthew 24:36) right after he says, "This generation will not pass away until these things have taken place." (24:34)

In the words of Winston Churchill, Jesus (or, at least his message) is "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Mystery and paradox are littered in and throughout Jesus' parables.
They are not meant to be easily understood or singularly interpreted, lest we become only too familiar with them, lest we fall into the trap that we have it all figured out.

"Wake up!" is Jesus' resounding cry.

We may have been lulled to sleep by Jesus' parables and teachings. 
*Yawn* 'Yeah, we've heard that one before, Jesus.'

WAKE UP!, he tells us again.

In a way I love that Jesus' close friends don't even get him, most of the time. It makes the disciples wonderfully relatable for us. That Jesus has to keep telling them the same thing, urging them to stay awake over and over.
It must have been distressing, though, for Jesus. His friends, his closest companions don't seem to understand all he is going through, all he is trying to tell them.

And how could they? The words of Jesus are so rich, so thick with meaning. So wonderfully full of mystery and paradox. 
When the disciples first heard them, perhaps they understood them on the surface. Like we do. 
We understand the simple meanings of the parables, the traditional interpretations where we place certain people into character roles and come out on the other end with a nice moral to the story.

But for the disciples of Jesus (as it is with us), it may not have been until they reflected on Jesus' words and teachings--perhaps not until after Jesus' death, when they were left without their teacher and friend, when they began to write down the early gospels--that they understood the significance of what Jesus was trying to tell them.

And perhaps they never really grasped it, just like I don't.
The truth is not really something to be grasped after all.

Truth is something that is there all along, that exists and remains regardless of its reception, whether or not we awaken to it.

We catch glimpses of it when we reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus, when we allow the Word to stir and ruminate inside us, to open up new meanings and new understandings within our minds and hearts and spirits. 

We stay awake to the presence of God within us and within the world, even when the darkness threatens to overtake us.

"Wake up!," Jesus tells us.

Wake up to the sights and sounds and beauty that make up God's Creation. Wake up to the reality that God is present in it all, in us all. 

Walk from room to room, acknowledging that God is in each one.
Move from task to task, and claim God's presence in each moment and each effort.

Keep awake to the stirrings of the Spirit in your everyday life. 

Stay awake to the truth not yet discovered in the Word proclaimed and embodied by Jesus.

We do not know when God will come, and yet we know that God has come and that God is very near and very present to us always.

May I be stay awake and keep alert to the presence and workings of God in every second and every situation of my life. Amen.

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