Lie In It
The Rev. Jon Roberts
Calvary Episcopal Church
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread;[a] 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[b] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The Lord’s Prayer, James Tissot 1886-1894
Everyone who makes their bed must lie in it.
It’s an old French proverb heard first in the year 1590. It eventually made it across the English Channel and was used most often. The Priest and Poet, George Herbert used it in 1640 in his collection of “Outlandish Proverbs” to relate the condition of man to God’s mercy and judgment. The saying means this. An individual who chooses to do a particular thing must now accept the unpleasant results of their action. It has a moral compass that ultimately can only be determined by our relationship to and with God.
How many of us make our bed each day? Do any of you, not make your bed? How often do you wash the sheets? How long have you kept the same bedspread, sheets or pillows? Making the bed is supposedly a ritual within itself. It is done quietly, sometimes in haste and sometimes with reverence. If we are late, we may quickly get the job done and be on our way. If we have time, we may put more attention to the aesthetic, the comfort and security of the condition of our bedding. Whatever the case may be, everyone who makes their bed must lie in it.
In the lectionary for today, we have two examples of people lying in beds. They are both symbolic and literal and have great meaning. The first stems from the Old Testament selection from the minor prophet whose name is Hosea. It is worth noting that whenever you read the minor prophets there are warnings of sin, judgment and damnation. In other words, it does not sound good for the people in those days who are hearing the words of the prophets. Hosea is living somewhere in Israel/Judah around the year 750BC. It is 2-3 generations after the high-water mark period when King David reigned, after the splendor of King Solomon’s temple period and now it is in the leadership of Kings Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Israel and Judah are divided, and the monotheistic priorities of their ancestors have been cast aside. There is mass departures, migrations and invasions coming from across the borders. Tyranny and corruption have compromised national security and poverty and affliction are seen everywhere. The bed chamber, the inner sanctum, the last place of home is the church, where things are to be kept clean and maintained. Instead, it too has been spoiled and plundered.
Hosea begins his writing to the people of Judah with a salutation that he says are God’s words and he was a minority voice, a minor prophet. Many had dismissed God in their lives. He was no longer relative to the times, and they sought the things that filled their soul in other ways. They may have been very spiritual, but not religious. They lit candles and said prayers to the foreign Gods, to keep peace and presumed protection but this was idolatrous. Sexual impurity was so bad that prostitution, whoredom was seen everywhere, even at the temple. God told Hosea to go and marry one such as that, and later when you have a girl and a boy you will name them as I tell you. It is important to note that this is not God speaking in real time to Hosea. The letter is reflective as seen in the Hebrew text. Hosea speaks in hindsight, mapping out the course to which God proclaimed to him in secret before it all happened. Go and marry a woman who will have intercourse with anyone she is aroused or may purchase her services was most likely the consequence of Hosea marrying a local. There were none that were pure, none a virgin, none who kept themselves for the sanctity of marriage. Hosea made his bed and now he was faced with lying in it.
In Hebrew, Hosea means “salvation.” He married a woman called “Gomer” which means “complete.” Salvation is completed in the symbolic nature of God’s judgment and mercy that can still be found in sinful creatures. Further along, God speaks of their daughter and son and the symbolism of their names continues to bear meaning. The girl’s name, translated, means, “One who I will not pity” and the boy’s name, translated, meant, “You are not my people.” Not exactly names that any of us would like to have. This family represents the imperfect union of people who either sinned and suffered because of it, or they suffered because of being near it. Sin invariably leads to suffering but not all suffering is a consequence of sin. Sometimes we, by association, by nearness are part of the messiness and disorder, the breach and disjointedness from God’s will.
God may not admire or approve the bedchamber of our decisions or those near us. He may tell us that He cares not to be part of our choices to lie down with what is not clean and pure. And he may even declare that He cannot pity us and worse, say that we are not his people. But, like any bed, we have the will to change it. We can take those sheets off the bed, scrub them in soap and water, take them out and let them air in the sun. We can commit to a better discipline and spend the time in God’s word, in prayer, fasting from sin and devotion to love, as God desires to love us. How much of our own bed, behind closed doors do we privately obscure from our maker, the one who inevitably wants us to be orderly, tidy and prepared for His coming? The Lord God will surely come. Each day he comes and He intends to inspect how you have made your bed.
In the day of Hosea, the people shut God out of their lives. There was little mercy, in return. God allowed them to fall into ruin because they were not ready to listen and carry out His will for salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus comes along and teaches his disciples the basic way in how to make the bed, figuratively, through the act of prayer. When we listen to those familiar words we find the instructions. The discipline of prayer and dedication to live a holy life is to be discovered through times of God’s judgment and God’s mercy.
The “The Lord’s Prayer” is our ‘go-to’. When you recite those words, imagine it like you are making your bed.
“Our Father who are in heaven.” Take those pillows and move them to the side so that your head appreciates where to look for rest. “Hallowed be thy name.” Pull down the cover and the sheets, permitting God’s holiness to be revealed. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” Straighten and pull tight the fitted sheet, to which we cling to God’s direction and wisdom when the forces of secularism and idolatry invade our lives. “Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.” Now return the sheet and the cover in good form, placed well with a new look, to protect you from the coldness of addiction, lust, envy, sloth, gluttony and pride.
All the words of this prayer, we know by heart, and they are time-tested and valid as much today as they were for the disciples nearly two thousand years ago. Pay attention to the part that goes, “Thy will be done, thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” “Thy will” does not mean, “My will.” Our perpetual struggle against the secular whoredom of today, where we may choose to intermarry with the ungodly, the immoral and sinful desires is about one thing only. It is about our will verses God’s will. If God’s will for us is to be orderly in how we make our beds it is because we are to be inspected by Him each day.
Some days we may want to keep the door closed, crawl under our sheets, turn back to our dreams, and sleep in. It’s too early to wake up. Go away! As in Jesus’ parable of the man in bed with his family, the friend was persistent in knocking on the door. What are the loaves of bread He wants from us and who is the visitor our Lord is asking us to attend? Are we ready at any hour? Are we ready today? If he asks, will we answer? It is a calling that we dare not refuse. The very house to which we live, the bed to which we sleep and the company to which we keep, is important. Our routine each morning should be one that starts with searching for God and becoming intimate with His will; His kingdom come; His will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Today, do not lock the Savior out. For we, who ask Jesus to forgive us our sins and forgive those who are indebted to us will not be abandoned. Accept the consequences of living in an unjust and immoral culture, whereas ungodly behavior may be of your nation, your state, your town, your business, your neighborhood. Maybe it is even observed in your denomination or the church where you grew up; may God forbid!
You may not have control over the appearance of the bunk beside yours, but you do have the ability to maintain your own. Learn how to live in the world, but not to be part of it. Pray as Jesus taught us. Pray as instructed by our Collect today that says, “O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal.” Our Father is the protector of all who trust in Him. Do not let go of your integrity or be the one who ignores the knock on the door. Be prepared for inspection because everyone who makes their bed, must ultimately lie in it.
 Hosea 1:1-10
 Luke 11:1-13
 John 17:6
 Collect Proper 12