2020-11-29 _ Advent (1st)
● Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 ● Psalm 80 ● 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ● + Mark 13:33-37 ●
[_01_] The title is ALERTNESS for Advent. Sometimes, getting someone’s attention is a very serious, very austere, very stern matter.
Years ago, a TV show about southern-California and “CalTech” young physicists called The Big Bang Theory had an episode about alertness or watchfulness.
In this The Big Bang Theory episode, the character “Sheldon” interviewed another character to be his future roommate, to live in Sheldon’s apartment.
“Sheldon” is the interviewer and Sheldon is very watchful, very alert, very protective of his space and suspicious of the new roommate.
Sheldon first quizzes his future prospective roommate [Sheldon] about his job and his science fiction character preferences before he allows him to enter [the apartment]. At this point, Sheldon's apartment is almost empty of furniture, having only two lawn chairs instead of a couch/chair and the TV is balanced on cinder blocks. Sheldon gives a series of interview questions to verify “goodness” … “worthiness”… and then gives him a tour, which includes showing him his future bedroom with the [ominous and lamenting] message words: "DIE SHELDON DIE" painted on a wall by the previous roommate, which Sheldon says he might want to repaint [over the words]. After working out seemingly countless pages of the roommate [contract] agreement, they move in together.
[_02_] So.. Sheldon is bit too intense….. too alert….
We can often laugh at people who are too intense or too tense or too serious. We may laugh at ourselves when we get this way
[_03_] Is it possible to be both watchful and joyful at the same time?
This Sunday begins Advent, a time of joyful watching or watchful joy.
Jesus, however, seems quite serious – reminding us 5 times – in this short reading to “to be watchful, to be alert.”
[_04_] I recently saw a lecture by a business school scholar/student (Eric Tsytsilin, Stanford University Business School, Lecture: "Laughter: Serious Business") whose hypothesis about business and life is that we live in a drought not of water or rainfall, but a drought of laughter.
He quotes this statistic that a baby/infant laughs 400 x / day and an age 35-year-old adult laughs 15x / day.
[_05_] Jesus comes to share his parables and teaching with us and life with us not to order us around but to bring us joy.
The parable today refers to the menial and manual labor of taking care of someone else’s house and the need for the servants to be watchful, well…this is a metaphor for all of us. For the “house” symbolizes the gift of our own lives, our own family, the house which has been given to us by God.
For we are all – by our lives – taking care of a house – our own bodies/lives/persons – that belongs first to God. We are his “roommates”.
There is a roommate agreement. He wants us to stay!
Even when we take care of our own family, our own parents, or taking care of our own children, we are still taking care of people who belong to God.
Jesus speaks of watchfulness today, what is that brings both joy and watchfulness, both joy and alertness. Consider what it means to take care of a child, to bring up a child requires both joy and watchfulness.
Also, to love someone is to become like or similar to the other. This applies equally – especially – in the Gospel Good News to care of children:
“Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:46-47; Mark 9:35-37)
[_06_] In our own lives to make any real changes, any progress, we are called to both watchful and joyful.
This was also the message of the parable of the Prodigal Son, of the merciful father who represents God, the father who is both watchful and joyful for his child to return.
[_07_] I encourage you in this Advent to pray intentionally and watch out for Jesus’ presence in your life, to ask him to savor the joys you have.
Even to pray for more moments of laughter and to enjoy them when they happen.
Watchfulness in our spiritual life can be a joyful pursuit of perfection.
[_08_] In the lecture by the business school student in which he quotes that babies laugh 400 x / day and adults laugh only 15 x / day, he gets the attention of the audience by putting up a video for them to watch.
Depending on your internet YouTube watching habits, perhaps you have seen the video. It is in the “viral” at x > 107 million views
The video shows an infant – named Micah -- of about 3 or 4 months old sitting on a couch, in a pretty good mood.
Then, the baby Micah’s father tears up a piece of paper and the child giggles, smiles…. Another piece of paper is torn, the child laughs again. This goes on 7 or 8 more times, each to the greater glee and belly laughs of the child. It is an example that laughter is truly contagious.
Also, laughter requires breath and breathing. As you know, when you are really laughing you have to stop and catch your breath … the child must do the same.
But, what was being torn up? What was the paper?
It was not just a blank piece of paper but one of the many rejection letters which Micah’s father had received from potential employers.
So, even though Micah could not walk or talk … does not mean that we cannot learn something from him. Micah can experience true joy in an otherwise tragic situation.
which he had applied.
In this case, tragedy became comedy and comedy, laughter. And, the laughter went far and wide: viral.
107 million views.
Look it up on YouTube: “Baby Laughing: The original” CLICK FOR VIDEO HERE.
Laughter – joy – does not make us forget, it helps us to remember, to remember that he gave us life for us and became one of us, first as a child. Pure joy.
And, Jesus wants you to be joyful and watchful and never forget his love for you this Advent, this new year. [_fin_]