Message Supplement for 27 November 2022 (1st Sunday of Advent): “Get Up!”

The Bible passage for today’s message: Romans 13: 11-14

Get up! How often have you heard someone shout this, disturbing your sleep? It can sure be a struggle some days to awaken and get out of bed. Nonetheless, arise we must and face the day’s challenges and opportunities.

When Paul wrote the church in Rome, he spoke to them about many serious faith issues. In fact, the book of Romans is Paul’s deepest study of his Christian faith. Writing about spiritual awareness, Paul encouraged his readers to rise and shine:  “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we become believers” (Romans 13: 11).

What does it mean to be awake spiritually? First, consider that to awaken means that what comes prior is some form of unconsciousness. In other words, you can’t awaken if you’re not asleep. We all know what it is like to get out of bed but Paul is concerned with something more profound, which is rising from a soul-sleep.

People are holistic in that they are comprised of body, mind & spirit. The spirit aspect is the most troublesome because it is often difficult to understand. It is tempting to be so self-absorbed in daily tasks and responsibilities that your spirit becomes neglected. Paul’s idea was to remind people of their essential spiritual nature so that they could awaken and draw closer to God.

Are there attitudes and behaviors that keep your soul asleep? Life has so many distractions that I tis easy to anesthetize our spiritual existence. So common is this a problem that many people don’t nurture spiritual life. Don’t let this happen to you. Being spiritually awakened is more than simply giving lip service to a religion or showing up dutifully at church every week.

The type of spiritual awakening Paul suggested is a recognition that your spirit needs attention, similar to how your physical body requires a proper diet and exercise. When you are hungry your body lets you know because you’ll experience hunger pains. Similarly, when your mind is not doing well you can feel confusion and similar negative emotions. But with the spirit, signs of deprivation are often more subtle. Spiritual malnourishment may become obvious through a sense of alienation, dissatisfaction and disconnectedness. The gist is that spiritual health is a vital aspect of your overall wellbeing and thereby worthy of your ongoing attention.

As people of faith, we are reminded of the importance of seeing through a spiritual lens. This means that we are not predominately looking at life as a way to gain physical pleasure or to stimulate a narcissistic ego. Rather, we can feed our spirit by receiving and sharing God’s love, by demonstrating compassion toward other people. You can begin by ensuring that you are actually awake and not simply going through the motions of a mind-numbing, daily ritual. Ignoring spirit and cruising on autopilot might sound nice but is not a substitute for you to be awake and alert as you navigate life.

People tend to get stuck in patterns of thinking and behaving which aren’t optimal. One way to overcome this problem involves periodically challenging yourself to push through whatever is holding you back. Test yourself, determining if you are truly leveraging and exercising your spiritually-empowered faith.

Hear that sound? The alarm is going off and we are invited to rise and shine. “Get Up!” the divine voice admonishes us. As we awaken, together we can better meet and overcome obstacles. Let us determine to strive for a better life and thereby unleash our spiritual potential.  –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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