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Sit In Reverie And Watch

Mark 13:33-37

The Rev. Jon Roberts

30 November

2008

Good Shepherd Episcopal

Venice, FL

33 Be on guard! Be alert[a]! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer, 1497

Sit in reverie and watch,
The changing color
Of the waves, that break
Upon the idle seashore
Of the mind.[1]

From one Sunday to the next, we come and sit here and dream and watch the changing color of the words of Jesus, that break upon the idle seashore of not only our minds but also our hearts. He stirs us so, that we wish we could remain in Him forever. but we cannot. We can’t because we are filled with the obligations that we have heaped upon ourselves on the busy interstate that tugs us to return. We cannot live on the beach forever, we say; rolling up our jeans, walking down to the water and touching the coolness of the sea. But it is that time we spend in solitude; That time with our maker, that makes life worthwhile in the dreaming and in the watching of the change in colors.

On Thanksgiving Day, we heard Jesus preach to the crowd, “Do not be anxious about your life. What you will eat or drink, or what you will wear.”[2] Today, on the first Sunday in Advent we begin a new year. We jump quickly ahead to the Markan account of Jesus preaching to his disciples that the end times are coming. The sun will be darkened. The moon will not give off its light. The stars of heaven shall fall and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.[3] Our seashore is not a peaceful one, so it seems. It’s as if we sit, knowing that the storm is coming, and Jesus is telling us that it will come but don’t be anxious. It will come and there will be destruction. Rain and hail will drop in sheets. Winds so severe, they will come and blow down the buildings. But don’t be anxious. Furthermore, Jesus tells them three times what they are to do. They are to Watch. To Watch. Watch. Sometimes the hardest thing in life, to do, is to watch.

Recently, a fiction book written by the author William Young was rated as the #1 New York Times bestseller. Called, The Shack, it is the story about a man whose life was devastated and restored when tragedy confronts eternity.[4] The main character and father, “Mack,” took his family to the Wallowa Lake state park in Oregon where all was well until his littlest child, Missy, his “princess,” so he called her, was nowhere to be found. The rest of the family spread out to look for her. Other campers helped with the search. The police were notified and anxiety was taken to the greatest depths of fear and panic.

Towards the end of the day, there was one eye-witness who said he saw her, being pushed down in the back of a jeep by a forceful man as he sped off. It was a case of an abduction. For the father, and all the rest of the family, the changing color of the waves, turned from a sunlit, transparent blue, to a darkened, impenetrable black. The fury of the storm was now upon them. The worst thing they could be told to do at this time, was to sit in reverie and watch. The only dreams they had were of the worst kind. But through something perfectly situated between this world and heaven, God intervened in this man’s life.

At the scene of the crime, God helped him move beyond his anger and his fear. It was a story about the power of forgiveness, as children of God discover that God can take the very worst in life and use it for His good. As helpless as it may seem, there will be many instances in our lives, when waves break either by calm or by storm upon us, and we are called to watch. When Jesus speaks of the end times, of the great tribulation, when the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give off its light, He is giving us guidance for the day when we lie in travail. He knows that our health may be taken from us by a force of nature. He already knows our days. Who will die, and when and we hear him still as he says to us, “Don’t be anxious for your lives.” Sometimes you are called to Watch. To watch. Watch. Sometimes the hardest thing in life, to do, is to sit idle, and watch.

Going into Advent we will have a foretaste of what God watched himself a long time ago. When that couple traveled from afar, entering into that little town of Bethlehem, He watched them as they went door to door. He watched the father and his young mother expecting child, find no room in the Inn. He watched from the moment of the child’s birth. He watched how the child would enter into the world cradled on a piece of wood. He would watch years later as that same child, His child, His Son, would be taken out and crucified on another piece of wood. Advent is a time of watching. A time of watching God taking the worst in life, and using it for His good. Let the love of God, by the sending of his Son, break upon you. Let his love break down any anxiety, any anger, any fear you may have. Let him heal the pain you may be feeling. If you have not found the place in your heart to forgive another, He can help. Advent is the time we expect great things while at the same time wondering if the end is in sight. Great things will once more come and knock on our door, but like the waves that break upon the idle seashore of your soul, you may have to sit in reverie, pray and watch.

[1] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
[2] Matthew 6:25-33
[3] Mark 13:33-37
[4] William P. Young, The Shack, Hodder & Stoughton, 2007.

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