Luke 12_35-40 Ever-ready
Oh no, I’m not ready! Oops. I forgot I had to have a sermon for this Sunday. Perhaps someone could give a sermon for me? Do you have one ready? Do you? Or do you?
Oh no, I’m just not ready, today came too fast, I wasn’t expecting to have to give a sermon so quick after last week! I mean, I have been so busy with ministry. I had to visit a number of people, I have taught at the women’s guild, went to Nyngan, taught at JAM and supported the ‘Shed Happens’ display at the vintage truck show. I though I had plenty of time yet to prepare a sermon, but here we are! Well what now, the time is here and I’m not ready. And do you know what? No one else can be ready for me; no one else can be me. I am the one called to be ready for this time.
Jesus warns us as his disciples to be ‘ever-ready’ for his return “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” As Christians and disciples of Jesus, we are to be like ‘Ever-Ready’ batteries, ready and powered up to welcome Jesus at a moment’s notice. For Jesus has promised to return at an unknown hour, and when he returns, it will be the end of time and life as we know it; in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, St Paul says, Jesus will suddenly appear before us.
When this happens, the time will be at hand. Like with my sermon, in which I was not ready, yet the time came, and no one but me was responsible for being ready, so it will be at Jesus’ return; as the saying goes ‘time waits for no one.’ Jesus will appear whether we are ready or not…are you ready? Are you watching? Are you prepared with a lamp lit, in the right clothing and ready to open the door for Jesus at a moment’s notice? Are you an ‘every-ready’? If Jesus had have returned yesterday, would have you been ready? Or tomorrow, will you be ready?
Many of us would say yes, but our yes is one that is tainted with doubt and uncertainty, fear and weariness about what being an ‘ever-ready’ servant really means and what not being ready actually is. After all, aren’t we all ready?
Perhaps someone can comment on what it means to be ready or not?
Jesus warns us to be ‘dressed ready for service, with lamps burning.’ What does this image conjure up in your mind?
Perhaps we should be wearing overalls and work boots, and all have a torch in our pockets?
Dressed and ready for service in Jesus day, meant men and women had to hitch up their long cloaks under their belts, so their long clothing would not hinder their run, or cause them to trip. When God was about to kill the first born of every Egyptian in the last Plague, God wanted his people to be ready for this and to be dressed to run, once the Pharaoh let them go, as recorded in Exodus, “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” However, Jesus is not asking his followers to be ready in this physical way, constantly dress in robes tucked under their belts.
We are not to be ready by wearing joggers, tee-shirt and trackies. Neither is he asking us to dress in some special ‘Christian clothing’, our Sunday bests’ to show others around us we are more ready than they.
If not, what is Jesus expecting of us?
He is challenging us to be spiritually ready for his return. Urging us to be as ever-ready for him in faith, hope and love, as the Israelites were every-ready in girded clothing, lamps and oil; ready to take that journey to the Promised Land. To be ever-ready for Christ, fully charged and challenged to move at an instant’s notice, is to be spiritually prepared for the journey that Jesus’ return inaugurates, our personal journey to the Promised Land of heaven, as Jesus promised in John 14, let’s read “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Jesus also announces in today’s gospel the great reward we will receive for being ready to welcome him saying “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Jesus will be serving us in heaven!!
To be ever-ready, ever-charged and challenged in faith, hope and love, is to be spiritually ‘packed light’ for Jesus coming. Having nothing in our spiritual lives that may cause us to be sleepy and lose our sense of urgency; nothing keeping us from always having Christ on our mind, believing, hoping, doing and planning, serving and loving as if he were to come at the very next second.
To be an ever-ready packed light Christian, is to cast off anything in our hearts that may cause us to trip or entangle us, slowing us down or stopping us from running to open the door when Jesus knocks, as he said “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” As a long cloak in Jesus day stopped people from being ready to run, thus they had to hitch them up in readiness, our greatest burden and load stopping us from being ready is worry.
Our worries greatly load us down, paralyzing us, stopping us from being ready, blocking our ears to the knocking of Jesus.
What are some of your worries?
Worry for you could be shame and guilt about your past, perhaps they are weighing you down so heavily that you struggle to have faith. Perhaps it may be anger and bitterness that burden you to a point where we can’t even lift a finger in hope or even dare to love. You may even worry about being ready! Always loaded down trying to outdo yourself in good deeds, hoping this good may make you more ready than in the past.
All of us have spiritual baggage that loads us down, stopping us from being every-ready. An Ever-Ready battery will not be ready for use when the time comes, if it has been slowly drained or loaded with a power drawing device. In the same way, worry drains our readiness, spiritually killing us by drawing out and draining all our faith in Christ, our hope of eternal life and our love for him.
Interestingly, its not our suffering that causes us this burden of worry, but our lack of suffering, as Ravi Zacharias from “The real face of Atheism” wrote, “despair comes not from being weary of suffering, but from being weary of pleasure.” No wonder Jesus warns against wealth, pleasure and worry in the verses previous to today’s gospel…have a read when you get home.
Does it mean then, to be spiritually light, we just don’t worry, as the song goes ‘don’t worry be happy’, or eat, drink and be merry, like the rich fool we heard about last week? No! Its how our worries are dealt with.
On whom can we ‘unload’?
Jesus himself takes our worry. He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The good news about being ever-ready is that Jesus himself makes us ready, by taking all that burdens us and inhibits our faith and places it upon himself. Jesus offers himself as a person to dump upon, unloading our worries so that we are every-ready to enter his kingdom and feast with him.
He takes our burdens, not like a psychiatrist or therapist, who can do little more than listen and prescribe new ways of living, but as a healer. Jesus actually heals us and restores our life again, keeps us charged in faith, hope and love. This is why we are encouraged to do this in James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Soon we will confess our sins and then partake in the heavenly feast with Jesus. Use this opportunity to really unload your heart of worry, so that you may be healed and ever-ready. If this is not enough, come to me privately during the week, as Jesus’ very ears, and unburden and then hear Jesus comforting words of forgiveness and healing. Now is the time to be every-ready, now is the time to encourage others in our community to be ready. For this very hour Jesus may come and say ‘“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”