“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Luke 12:32-40 (NRSVUE)
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night or near dawn and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
I want to go back and take another look at how today’s reading begins. It begins with Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid, little flock.” I love that! “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What beautiful words, huh? Sounds comforting, doesn’t it? Reassuring. It makes you feel like everything is going to be okay. But the story does not end there because Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t be afraid because God wants to give you the kingdom,” and then walk away. No, he then goes on to talk about the things that we should do to get ready.
He says, “Sell your possessions, and give alms to the poor.” Now, that is easy enough to understand, though it may not always be easy to do. Then he says, “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So in other words, by making purses that don’t wear out, Jesus is not talking about finding a stronger fabric or making wallets out of duct tape. He is talking about not worrying about our material things here on earth, but instead strengthening our faith and trust in God. Focusing on our Maker and not on the material things that the world supplies. And finally, he says, “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” Now, when Jesus talks about being dressed for action, that has nothing to do with the clothes we wear. It doesn’t matter if we are wearing shorts and a T-shirt or a three-piece suit.
Here in Oldtown, we often talk about the light that we carry within us. Do you remember? The light of Christ that we carry deep inside of us? The one that begins to shine from us for others to see, even if we can’t see it ourselves? And that light shines the brightest when we are being who God created us to be, when we are living out faith, and when we are being the hands and feet of Jesus on this Earth. And that is what Jesus is talking about when he says, “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.”
After giving those instructions, Jesus tells a story about the importance of being ready. If you remember, the story is about a master who has gone out to a wedding banquet. And while he is away, it is the job of his servants to be ready for his return so that they can greet him at the door when he comes home.
The story goes on to tell us that if the servants are ready they will be invited to a great feast with the master. Now, many believe that the servants being invited to a feast with the master is a foreshadowing of the second coming, when Jesus comes again and invites the chosen to a great feast, and that Jesus is calling us to be ready when that time comes.
But my faith tells me that Jesus is more inclusive and more connected than that. My faith tells me that Jesus does not want us to live in fear, being afraid of what might happen someday if we are not ready and struggling to get prepared and get our faith ready for something that we may not ever be worthy of. No, my faith tells me that Jesus loves me, and he loves you! All of you! And he loves us here and now, just as we are, even in our brokenness and in our insecurity. And because Jesus loves us, he wants us to be ready to live out our faith in the here and now, not worrying about someday but preparing to make our lives and the lives of others better today.
So how do we get ready? What do we need to prepare? Well, as you know, every day in our lives, we are preparing and getting ready for different things. In a football game, would Tom Brady head out onto the field without his helmet and uniform? No. that is part of his game preparation. That’s how he gets ready. Now I’m sure that there are many other things that he does mentally, physically, and emotionally to get ready too, but the helmet and uniform are a must.
What about if we are hosting a birthday party? We know we need to invite guests and have a birthday cake and decorations and gifts. And how do we get ready for the first day of school? Depending on the age of the student, we know that we need to get a backpack and a lunch box and maybe some pencils and crayons and glue sticks.
Friends, as human beings, we are actually pretty good at getting ready for things as long as we know what we need to do to get ready. So, if we are going to get ready for Jesus, what do we need to do? Well, we can begin with prayer. Having an honest conversation with him, sharing our thoughts and questions, our hopes and our dreams, but also (as we learned last week) taking time to listen.
Several years ago, we used to include simple morning and evening prayers in the bulletin for everyone to take home and use during the week. Many people found them helpful as a way to center themselves each morning and evening. Because I know that many people struggle with having the “right words” to say in prayer, we have decided to start including those prayers again for a little while. So on the back of your bulletin, you’ll find them at the end of the service. Now, please know that you don’t need to use those specific words, but I would encourage you to talk with Jesus in the morning and in the evening each day this week. Spend some time sharing your thoughts and your experiences, your joys, and your concerns. You just might be amazed at how much closer to God and more ready you feel when you share your thoughts and your time with Jesus.
Other ways to get ready? You can look to scripture for guidance, talk to others about your faith, or be a part of a loving community like we have here in Oldtown. Because the truth is, the more we share our excitement and live out our faith, the brighter the light of Christ shines out of us.
There is one more thing that we don’t usually talk about, but it is very important in our preparedness; that is, dependability. Remember, back to our scripture, the servants needed to be dependable. The master needed to be able to trust them with responsibility. And that is true for us as individuals and as a church, too. We are called to preach the gospel not only with our mouths but also through our actions.
I don’t know how many of you have ever been to Yellowstone National Park, but if you haven’t seen it, you have probably heard about it. In Yellowstone National Park, there is a geyser called “Old Faithful.” It is not the largest and grandest geyser in the region, but its popularity lies in its dependability. Old Faithful erupts on time every time, giving tourists what they have come to see and experience.
My friends, when our faith is prepared and ready, and we are dependable and trustworthy, we are able to face whatever comes our way. Now, please understand that being prepared, ready, and trustworthy does not mean that we are perfect. It does not mean that we are always right or that we have all the answers. It simply means that because we stand on a firm foundation, we can be open to new possibilities and unexpected happenings.
Folks, the truth is our faith is about a lot more than Sunday mornings. Don’t get me wrong. Sunday morning worship is a great place to start. Worship is a great place to come to be fed and inspired for the work that God calls us to do. It helps us to get ready and to begin to prepare ourselves, but talking about our faith is not enough. We need to put it into action. We need to take our faith out into the world and let it become a part of all that we do during the week, so that the light of Christ can shine from us and light the way for others.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, how will you get ready? How will you prepare yourself for a life of faith? Will you pray? Will you worship? Will you look to scripture for guidance? No matter how you prepare and what you choose to do to get ready, know that Oldtown is a safe place where you are loved, just as you are! This is a place where you can always find assistance and guidance to go out into the world to live out your faith, grounded in God and in the love of Jesus Christ, so that you might help others to do the same.
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, AMEN!