O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Wake Up and Get Dressed
Wake Up and Get Dressed
Based on Romans 13:11-14
Preached on December 4, 2019
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We were in Alaska. Glacier Bay. And my ship was preparing to cross the Gulf to Anchorage. I was slated to take the Mids watch, you know, from midnight til 4, which meant I would get very little sleep. The shake came in the dead of night. Wake up. Time for watch. I rolled out of my rack into a pitch dark room and groped about for my locker. I had to get dressed. My uniform had to look the same regardless of when I put it on. I bumbled into my boots, pulled my jacket around myself and cracked my cabin door. I followed the red lights up the ladder to the bridge door. And then I went through - into the darkness of night. Mountains loomed over the ship on either side. You could tell more by their dark shadows than their actual forms. And I turned to walk, not by sight, but entirely by memory, around to the front of the bridge. The outgoing watchkeeper received me, made his turnover and off he went. Now it was my job to sail us through the dawn. To take the ship from darkness into light.
I’ll never forget that sunrise. They say its darkest just before the dawn. But the way the light filled Glacier Bay that morning had the soft, colourful look of a dream. Orange and pink, red and purple filled the sky, and framed the mountains, as they reflected off the calm mirror-like water, and holding the entire sight together was something like a powdery haze. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Something you would have thought was impossible in the darkness only hours before. The indescribable beauty was completely hidden even though it was all around us. Even though we were sailing right in its midst. But then came the dawn, and now I’ll be able to remember it forever.
Welcome to Advent. The Church’s reminder of what watch we’ve been slated to take. Of what hour we are living in. Of how close we are to the dawn. You know the time, Paul says. Christ has risen. He’s come up out of the darkness, and He’s shaken you out of the sleep of spiritual death. Called you to wake up. Roll out of your rack. Get dressed for your watch. To realize who you are, what uniform you wear, and what the nature of reality truly is. The night is far gone, and we are on the edge of the resurrection of all the dead. The new age. The final dawn.
Yes, you believe it – which means you are the watchkeeper whose job it is to sail us through the dawn. You have been called to watch while the ship goes from darkness into light. We are living in the time of His eternal rising victory. We watch through the darkness of this world for Him to reveal the indescribable beauty that is hidden all around us – salvation has come – it now is – and the lights are about to come on in the Great Resurrection.
Baptism has transferred us into a new time – a new era and a new age. It has given us a new identity. We are children of the light – no longer in the realm of darkness, because we belong in the kingdom of God’s Son. We know who we are and where we are going in Him. Paul is not saying “shape up, because Jesus the judge is coming soon.” No. He is reminding us of who we are in Christ, and whose power is at work in us. He is encouraging us to let the power of new creation have its way in us – the power of the Good News – the power of God’s gracious proclamation in Christ – the power of the free resurrection – the day – the dawn – the light.
He’s already started that in you. He’s created new worship. Renewed your mind. Made the new break-in even now. Like the first colour I saw in that indescribable sunrise. That’s your faith. Hidden, yet hinting at what’s about to happen. For the day is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
And so Paul says, “cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.” Don’t go up on the bridge in your pyjamas. Greet the dawn in your uniform. Take off that which is your own – your own desires, your own attitudes – and put on that which is another’s, even Christ’s – His righteousness and His gifts. The armor of light. He’s talking about repentance, isn’t he? Turning. Away from yourself, and your self-made identities. And towards who God says you are in baptism. His child of light. Give no room for passions – the desires of the flesh. Oh, they are waiting within you for their opportunity – but don’t give them one, Paul says. Shut them down, for they are not part of your eternal identity, they are not of the day or of the light.
No, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Let Him cloth you. Let Him put His armor on you. Put His Son on you. And be your Lord. This is a matter of faith. Not behaviour. He wants to armor you, protect your identity in Him, keep you from enemies on the walk. Will you receive Him? Will you let Him be Lord for you?
The military uniform – especially the dress uniform – takes some practice to put on. Dress shirt. Tie. Dress socks. Pants and belt. Tunic. Polished Shoes. Hat. But the hardest thing to get right is the name tag. Which is also the most important. Your name. Your identity. What people will call you. Who you are. The nametag needs to be straight – breast pocket high. And I will never forget the first time I put on my dress uniform. I was at home. In the home of my father. And I couldn’t get it right. I couldn’t get it level. I needed my father to do it. I needed him to come and put my nametag in place. Schnarr. It was the name he had given me. The identity I had received from him. My own father clothed me – and made me fit for service.
Clothed by your Father. Nothing could be more true. It is your heavenly Father that puts His Son on you. Your heavenly Father that clothes you. Your heavenly Father that names you in Holy Baptism. And gives you His Name too. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is your identity now. This is who you are. This is the Name you are to remember as you wear His Son and His resurrection victory standing on watch, waiting for the dawn. Wear Christ with pride. Wear the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit with great pride. Let it shine before all. Let its power fill, stir, move and drive you. May it be your only truth. For your Father above has set your name tag right. And He Himself has made you fit for service in His eternal kingdom. Wake up. Get dressed. It’s time for watch. Here comes the dawn.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr