December 3, 2023: The Work of Advent: Keep Awake

First Sunday of Advent

The Work of Advent: Keep Awake

For someone, this day will be experienced as the end of the world. It will be marred by despair—a disappointment, a diagnosis, a disaster. It will be an almost unbearable scenario that nearly overcomes the human spirit.

When the height of crisis passes, though, and the fight-or-flight adrenaline clears the bloodstream, sleep will come as a restorative gift. Sleep is solace when calamity winds down, anesthesia in the wake of tragedy. Sleep can take the edge off trauma. But only for so long.

To sleep too long is a hazard all its own. Hypersomnia over time endangers a person’s life in the same way as chronic insomnia. There comes a time when body, mind, and spirit need to return to wakefulness. To want to stay asleep, to want to remain unaware, is a coping mechanism in tumultuous times. But with eyes closed, mind disengaged, and spirit shut down, how is it possible to see the signs of regeneration?

“Keep awake,” Jesus says. Pay attention. Engage. Wind up.

Every day is the end of the world for someone. And every day is the beginning of hope for someone too. The season of adversity—of war, of cancer, of mass shootings, of climate collapse—always has the potential to be disrupted, interrupted, and replaced by the new thing being born through God’s activity in the world.

This is Advent. Stop sleeping. Be awakened to the hopefulness Jesus Christ brings. Again. And again. And again.


Christine Sobania Johnson, pastor
College Hill Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania