Sermon: Dressed for Action

Dressed For Action
Luke 12:32-40
7 August 2016

In ancient times, the kings and queens were accustomed to having a person known as a court jester to entertain them. Many years ago there lived a king who himself thought he was funny and gave his court jester, a scepter and told him that if he found someone more foolish than himself, that he, the jester was to give that person the king’s scepter.

Well, a few years went by and the king had become seriously ill. As the jester went in to visit his lord, the king told the jester, “I fear that I am about to embark on a long journey.” The jester then asked, “And when will you return? In a month?”  The king replied, “No.” In a year?” The king said, “No, my beloved jester, I am never going to return.” The jester then said, “Well then, what preparations has my majesty made for this long journey?” “None” replied the king. Then the jester said, “Your majesty is dying, going away forever and has made no preparation for your departure? Please take this scepter, for I would never do such a foolish thing.”

In our scripture for today, Jesus tells us that we need to be ready for our “long journey” that we have before us; we need to be prepared for when he comes back. This is a parable that speaks of God’s people being alert and prepared.

My scripture text is Luke 12:32-40.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

In this parable, Jesus told of a situation where the master of the house was about to attend a wedding reception. Before he left, he gave his workers final instructions; they were to do their work, keep everything in good order and watch for his return.  After some delay, the master returned to find everything as he had instructed.  He was glad to find everything in order and rewarded the servants for their faithfulness.

The lesson that our Lord would have us glean from this parable is the need to be ready for the return of the bridegroom, the Son of God. Be prepared for his return, to meet him in death when our time comes, and for the opportunities that come our way to share his love.  This parable also shows that rewards will be given to those who do God’s will.

To illustrate the importance of readiness consider this: Long before the internet and modern technology, a group of applicants who wanted a job as a wireless operator sat in a room waiting to be interviewed.  While they sat talking with each other, they paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes of a Morse code message that come over the office loud speakers.  Suddenly without warning, one of the applicants jumped up and rushed into the employer’s office.  Soon he returned with a big smile and said.  “I got the job!” The other group of applicants looked up and asked, “How did you get ahead of us?”  The young man explained that while all of them sat and talked, the office manager sent this Morse code message: “The person that I need must always be on the alert. The first person who interprets this and comes directly into my private office will be hired.”  When the young man heard the message, he responded and was given the job.

From a spiritual standpoint, we need to be tuned in. To know God’s Word so we too can have a personal relationship with Jesus.  When we actively live for Christ, part of the package is that we live in expectation.

British author CS Lewis once said, “The greatest thing is to be found at one’s post, having each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years.”

Back in the day when I was a young lieutenant in a Calvary Squadron, long before I became a chaplain, I served as the Assistant Adjutant and became the rear detachment commander for this one particular field exercise. My duties were to take care of all the administrative functions for the colonel while he was away.  It was a fun job; for two weeks I would come in at 9am, take care of what needed to be done, and go home at 5pm.  On the day the squadron was scheduled to return from the field, it was expected that all the vehicles, tanks, armored personnel carriers and soldiers would arrive sometime after midnight.  While other rear detachment personnel decided to go home at the regular time, I decided I better stay up and wait for the colonel to come in.  I knew the minute he walked through the door, he would want to be briefed on everything that had taken place in his absence, even at a late hour.  So when the squadron commander walked in the office, at 1:30 in the morning, he looked at me in disbelief, checked his watch and asked why I was there.  I forgot exactly what I said, but I didn’t get home until after 3am.  About a year later when the colonel was transferred to a position with more responsibility, he invited me to become part of his new staff, which I did.

In this parable, Jesus also relates his second coming to a house break-in. Verse 39 and 40 says:

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”  Again, this speaks of watchful expectation.  When someone is robbed, it is very much unexpected and sudden.  But if a homeowner were given some inside information, they could take precautions, such as have an alarm system installed, get a dog or house sitter; in most cases, that is enough to deter a thief.

When Janet and I go away for an extended period of time, we will ask our neighbors to get our mail, have them park their car in our driveway or put the trash barrels away to make it look like we are home. Inside we have timed lights that come on, all in hopes of deterring a thief.  In a sense that is being proactive and alert.

Using this parable, Jesus alerts us that his Coming will have the same shock and effect as a burglar. Being spiritually unprepared at the time of our death could also have the same effect.

A good retirement is when a person or couple can enjoy a comfortable standard of living, to be able to travel, to do all the things we have wanted to do. But to get there, it requires prior planning, sound financial decisions, wise investments, and systematic savings.  That thought process is similar to the Kingdom of God.  Some day we will see the Lord and we will need to be prepared prior to our meeting.

Philippians 2:11 “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

We shouldn’t have the attitude, “We will find out when we get there.”The philosophy of wait and see doesn’t work very well in career development or retirement.So why take a chance with our eternity?

Earlier in our United Methodist Communion service, we all repeated this phrase, “Christ has died. Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.”  Some day we will see our Lord, and we should do everything on our part to be prepared and make it a happy occasion.

Remember how the court jester was surprised by the foolishness of the king. It was because the king had not made any preparation for his final journey.

So I would encourage all, to make a profession of faith, read God’s word, be consistent in worship and live in expectation.