A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

1st Sunday in Advent, Year A

November 27, 2022

 

 

 

Lectionary 1:

Isa 2:1-5

Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Rom 13:11-14

Matt 24:37-44

 

Possible preaching themes:

 

  • On the images of sleep and staying awake from the second reading and gospel: the human body requires sleep to function properly, but we can be trained in various ways to “stay awake” even when we would rather shut down
  • The Fear of and preparing for the unexpected: together the readings speak about an unexpected future, which could be a source of fear; preparing for the unexpected can also be a source of consolation and hope 

 

Possible scientific resources:

 

 

  • The Power of the unexpected

 

Homily outline: Wake Up and Be Prepared

 

  • We need sleep

 

  • Fighting drowsiness
    • For many the answer to drowsiness is a jolt of coffee or some other chemical to combat the sleepiness
      • these can have negative effects, e.g., altering the normal stages of sleep, decreasing the quality of sleep, etc.
    • There are healthy ways to take the edge of sleepiness, e.g.,
    • Some groups even train specifically to function effectively in times of sleep deprivation
      • Some programs used by the military have a positive impact on reduction of sleep deprivation during  different tasks
      • Such programs helped groups develop higher tolerance to the psychological stress developed during training and its sleep deprivation  

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Goran-Sporis/publication/232321635_The_effects_of_basic_military_training_on_shooting_tasks_in_conditions_of_sleep_deprivation/links/0fcfd5082438e0f183000000/The-effects-of-basic-military-training-on-shooting-tasks-in-conditions-of-sleep-deprivation.pdf

 

  • Staying awake during Advent
    • This is a busy season in multiple ways as the December rush descends
      • Students are studying overtime for final papers and exams
      • Families are preparing for various gatherings and commitments
      • Business are ramping up post-Thanksgiving sale efforts
      • Postal workers and delivery personnel are in overdrive mode
    • For many in the northern hemisphere
      • Diminishing sunlight
      • Dropping temperatures
      • May heighten our instincts for comfort, withdrawal, and sleep
    • Advent is an antidote to our spiritual drowsiness
      • Some people even consider advent a kind of “boot camp,” that can help build up tolerance for all sorts of spiritual sleepiness and lethargy
    • We do not “stay awake” just for our own sake, but for the sake of the community
      • There are many folks that do not register on our radar
        • Marginalized by economic status or race
        • People who do not share our religious or political views 
        • We are spiritually asleep to them
      • Then there are folk who actually are sleep deprived
        • Because as a single parent they work 2 jobs and raise 3 kids
        • they are caring for elderly parents or disabled siblings
        • they work in health care and are physically and mentally depleted because of their service to others
      • Advent is practice time for staying awake, for paying attention, for reaching out to and lifting up those who on their own might drop from emotional, spiritual, or physical exhaustion
    • Jesus was unusually gifted at “staying awake”
      • He literally spent nights in prayer, like before calling his chosen disciples (Luke 6:12)
      • His agony in the garden of Gethsemane was another prayer marathon, in which he clearly outlasted his disciples who kept falling asleep while he struggled with his approaching death (Matt 26:36-46)
      • More than that he was consistently “awake” and attentive to those whom others ignored: Samaritan women, lepers, Syrophoenician women, crucified companions
      • These were welcomed by him into God’s reign
    • Advent does not simply prepare us for a past event, i.e. the birth of Jesus, which happened thousands of years ago
      • It prepares us to take up again the mystery of incarnation, to be Christ’s body in the world (1 Cor 12: 27), and to enable the birthing of Christ’s love to continue in the world
      • It is time to get serious about Advent as a spiritual boot camp and build up our capacities and gifts for staying awake for the Christ who looms around every corner and is the promise and challenge of every person we meet.

 

 

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