The following story is based on true events, but at different times in my life I may have been either driver, in my teens and early 20s I had an XR3 these days I drive an audi.
I was stuck at some traffic lights waiting for them to turn red.
This chap had been cutting me up and he got alongside me.
He was revving his engine, and looking over. He clearly wanted to go first.
Paula was like – let him go. which I was prepared to do.
A pause, lights when you are waiting for them can seem to take an age.
The lights went amber, I was surprised he didn’t go.
Oh well I thought…
Then Green, he must have jerked his clutch up way too fast. Because he leapt 2-3 yards on in frog hops.
He stalled his car he wasn’t ready, as he missed the orange light.
He had drifted off… then
When green came it obviously caught him by surprise.
he made a mess of it and frog hopped down the road.
The signs were all there, but you never know when the lights going to go green. They stayed red for a long time. In that time he lost concentration.
Who knows where he had drifted off too? His mind was not on the task at hand.
How does all that relate to today’s reading?
There are some similarities.
Jesus is telling us today
We are at that place of waiting for the lights to go green, however unlike the traffic lights there are more stages than just ready, get set, Go. There are far more things to do in these stages, than just wait and be alert.
We don’t get to sit nicely and wait, ours in an active waiting.
Ours is a calling while we wait.
To follow Christs example in calls us in so many ways,
We have to call him Lord, and know truth in our hearts that he is the source of all truth and love, and to rule that as Jesus says
“3 Heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away.”
And we have to stay the course, don’t do as the chap did and get distracted while he was waiting…. We have to stay focused.
As Jesus said
” Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, “
I doubt that chap, was carousing, but maybe he had drifted off on the anxieties of life. Got so caught up worrying, or gnawing away at a problem. Maybe that was what was making him so anxious to get round.
who knows, but Jesus warns us about that, and asks us to stay focussed, because that focus can help us when we are worried.
Like the old hymn goes what a friend we have in Jesus.
Our friend wants to carry our sins and griefs.
One thing that does hold true from todays metaphor is that Lights change without warning, we may if we sit at traffic lights long enough get to know how long they take. But in the time of waiting for Jesus we have no clue,how long before the lights go green.
One thing we know in the first week of advent is that the clock is ticking, because in the first week in advent we await, Gods affirmative action, deliberate action of Jesus arrival.
That ladies and gentleman was when the clock started, from red, to amber.
From stop to get ready.
Who has to get ready? When jesus said “this generation” doesnt mean the generation of Jesus day it means all the generations of humanity since he came. This generation in Gods terms means the group Since the clock started?
Today we await, the entry into the world of Gods redeeming love, brought into the world as a defenceless baby, I am sure over the next few weeks many sermons will talk about that fact. That the way he set the clock ticking to our salvation was not through force, but by the exact opposite. Today in advent week one we imagine a world that was firmly at “stop” and on his birth knew it had to get ready, and we learned from his example that he came to show us how.
Jesus showed us, that we become powerful when we give up our ideas of power, when we give love we receive so much more.
He started a journey roughly thirty years between his arrival and his resurrection, and theres something in that, the pace of our lives arent the pace God moves very often, most often he moves at a pace of lifes phases and things change when we are ready. He opened the gates of salvation, but it may take all our lives to get ourselves ready for him to come again.
How do we maintain that metaphorical car that focus, how do we keep our driving skills? Or better put how do we keep our eyes on him let him into our lives to keep us on the right track. The answer is simple – prayer. Prayer opens the garage door; prayer is us knocking on the door of the greatest power ever. A power that loves us very much, and wants to welcome us into his world, of peace and justice and love.
And all this is what it means to be ready, it means so much more than simply prepared, we need to know who he is, love him, follow his example and show love etc etc.
Like that chap from the lights, theres so much more to being ready, you have to learn to drive to even be sat at the lights, maintain your car etc etc.
Then you have to stay ready and not let all those things drift, let your driving habits get so bad that you stall and you do this by practice and staying alert.
This is what Jesus is asking today, that we maintain all the assets and edicts of our faith, trust in him, love for all, readiness to sacrifice, study so that we really know what he is asking, and prayer so that our study is led by him etc etc etc
We worship in an Anglican Church and our faith is built upon tradition, scripture and reason. All of those are nourished by prayer.
That I think this is, the real value of our church, and all our theologians, and our priests, our bible study, and our prayer. Getting us and keeping us ready.
Then comes the next task. That’s every person who knows jesus shows jesus in the way that we act.
That is our task in this life. Getting as many people ready for when the lights change as we can.
He came to show us how to et ready, his salvation gave us the means to move forward with him when the lights go green.
Our task is to ponder on him all of our lives and be as ready as we can be
As we move through advent, as we think about all the lessons contained in why he came, what he tried to teach us. The question we have to ponder over and over again with prayer, with thought, with love, in companionship, listening to the words of our service that show us. I mean we are just about to hear the words of the creed. When we hear all those words, we need to ask
is are we ready?
because in advent week one, we prepare for his arrival, and we know in that very moment the lights have changed to amber.