Nov 27 sermon "Watch for God's Love", to usher in the season of Advent!

Many of you remember an old, old TV show that I used to watch the re-runs of.
It was called The Honeymooners, with Jackie Gleason(Ralph) and Art Carney(Norton).
Of the many great episodes, one of the best was when Norton was sleepwalking.
Poor Ralph had the task of going with and watching over Norton as he sleepwalked. Norton would get up at night and go about his normal routines of daily life.
He made himself a sandwiches and even traversed to his job in the NYC sewer system.

I thought about this when I read today’s lessons from both Matthew and Romans.
Both of those readings implore us to “wake up” or to “stay awake”.
Those do not mean to literally wake up or stay awake, but more in a spiritual sense.
But to not be sleepwalking through life when it comes to matters of faith.

That Honeymooners episode reminded me that a lot of time we sleepwalk through life.
We often go about our daily routines and more,…not alert to things around us.
I’ve never sleepwalked, but people who do move about normally only with eyes closed.

Advent is a time to, once again, remind us that in Jesus Christ, God comes to our world.
We tell the story of how that was predicted to happen by prophets.
How God came to be with us to teach us, love us, and forgive us.
And how, at the end times, or end of our times, God will rescue (or save) us.

But what about every day of our lives until one or both of those things happen?
Does God come into and be active in our lives and our world all the time?
Are our eyes open to his presence,….or does our sleepwalking cause us to miss that?
We don’t miss big events of when God appears, like Christmas, but how about the rest of the time?

The key in noticing God’s presence in your life, is you have to pay attention! 
Not just attention to your surroundings,…but to how God is at work in the midst of them!
Paying attention to what God is doing in our lives is part of a relationship with God.

Look,…when you’re in a relationship with someone, be it family or friend, if you ignore them chances are you’ll miss how they impact your life.
If you don’t stay in touch with them and listen to what they might have to say,….
If you don’t spend time with or be alert to and pay attention to them,…
then you won’t hear of see or hear the many little things they say and do for you.

Of course, because they love and care about you, they still are doing those things.
But you’ll often miss it because you are not alert or awake to their role in your life.
Same thing with our relationship with God.

Now some people like to think that God is present and active in every little thing they do.
So when they’re looking for a parking spot near the store and find one - ‘Thanks Jesus’.
Or when we can’t find car keys but then discover where we left them - ‘Thank you Lord.’
I don’t think that scripture or reality supports that kind of God presence in life.

However, when more important things are going on;…. its a good time to look for God.
When life is slapping you upside the head or dumping you in the hopper;…look for God.
And when things are going great and changing for the better;…give thanks to God.
When we’re in trouble or trying to find some good in the midst of the bad,….
that’s when we need to wake up and listen and look for what God is doing.

It helps us to do that if we maintain that relationship with God.
If we take time to talk to God in prayer or meditate and reflect on God’s word, then we can tell God what we need.
If we read scripture or have a daily devotional and if we make a habit of attending worship to hear God, then we can hear what God has to say and how He works.
Those things, then, can in turn, help us to notice whenever He acts in our lives. 

How will that manifest itself,…. or what will that look like when it happens?
I can’t really give you specifics other than my own experiences in life.
Everyone and every set of circumstances is different.
But just ask yourself, ‘Is what happened consistent with what Jesus says about God?
If what is going on looks like God’s promise of goodness for us,…then…..

Finally - there are two reasons we do this “staying awake” for God.
One is that when we overlook good things from God, we sell short and diminish God.
What do we think!  He is sleeping on the job and not there for us?

But the more important reason we look for God in our lives is that it enhances our faith!
And as our faith is enhanced, then so is our hope whenever things get tough.
With greater faith based on the certainty that God is active in our lives…. then the next time out we’ll be more apt to trust in God’s help.
It is a perpetual support system based on being alert to and believing in the love and power of God!

Norton didn’t know that Ralph stayed close to protect him while he was sleepwalking.
If he had woke up and seen that, it would have enhanced their friendship.
Norton would have trusted and had faith in the fact that Ralph was taking care of him 
So wake up,….listen for God,….and look for God,….and give thanks to God.
Because he is watching over you and taking care of you.

Amen