7 Letters of Revelation: Alive and Awake

alive awake awareRevelation 3:1-6 NIV
The Risen Christ says, “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

There was every indication of life and vigor. But outward appearances are notoriously deceptive; and this socially distinguished congregation was a spiritual graveyard. It seemed to be alive, but it was actually dead…. The reputation that Sardis had acquired was a reputation with human beings – but not with God. – John Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church: an Exposition of Revelation 1-3

Proverbs 6:6-11 NRSV
Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise. Without having any chief or officer or ruler, it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior.

Ephesians 10:14 NRSV
Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.

Jesus did not numb himself or withhold himself from human pain, as we see even in his  refusal of the numbing wine on the cross (Matthew 27:34). Some forms of suffering are necessary so that we can more fully know the human dilemma, so that we can even name our shadow self and confront it. Maybe evil itself has to be felt to understand its monstrosity, and to empathize with its victims. Brothers and sisters, the irony is not that God should feel so fiercely; it’s that his creatures feel so feebly. If there is nothing in your life to cry about, if there is nothing in your life to yell about, you must be out of  touch. We must all feel and know the immense pain of this global humanity. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the universal Body of Christ.
– Richard Rohr

They watch for Christ who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind, who are awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in honoring him, who look for him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if they found that he was coming at once…. This then is to watch: to be detached from what is present, and to live in what is unseen; to live in the thought of Christ as he came once, and as he will come again; to desire his second coming, from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of his first. -John Henry Newman

Psalm 57:7-8 (NIV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

We’re like kids whining in the back seat, “Are we there yet?” Well, we are there yet. We are here now. But we’re so busy being busy, and whining about it, that we don’t notice. Our busyness is not fruitfulness; it’s fear. We’re afraid of the stillness, afraid of the dark, afraid of what might come up in the silence. We’re afraid of not being in control and of being dependent, afraid of not knowing. We keep busy to stay unconscious. Advent invites us into the dark, into the silence, into wakefulness.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Pregnant Pause

Let me describe what it means to be truly present. Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. … It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment. If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor. -Trevor Hudson, A Mile in My Shoes

Prayer: Break Through
Break through Jesus
Break through the tombs we make for ourselves
Break through the layers of sin and habit
callused eyes
hardened mind
gravelly heart

Awaken us from apathy and busyness and self-deception
We’re just going through the motions
We’re asleep at the wheel of life
Forgive us and awaken us from automatic pilot faith

We know nothing can keep you in the grave
You are risen, just as you said
We trust you to raise us up with you
and to make us alive with your joy. Amen

**********
This is the fifth of seven posts based on themes from Revelation chapters 2-3. In these scriptures, Jesus reveals the timeless message of what His church should look like.

Click here for a worship resource entitled Awakening.

Prayer: Break Through © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

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