Year B - 1 Advent - December 3, 2017
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Chicken Little likes to walk in the woods. She likes to look at the trees. She likes to smell the flowers. She likes to listen to the birds singing.
One day while she is walking, an acorn falls from a tree, and hits the top of her little head. - My, oh, my, the sky is falling. I must run and tell the lion about it, - says Chicken Little and begins to run. She runs and runs.
By and by she meets the hen. - Where are you going? – asks the hen. - Oh, Henny Penny the sky is falling and I am going to the lion to tell him about it. - How do you know it? - asks Henny Penny. - It hit me on the head, so I know it must be so, - says Chicken Little. - Let me go with you! - says Henny Penny. - Run, run.
So the two run and run until they meet Ducky Lucky. - The sky is falling, - says Henny Penny. - We are going to the lion to tell him about it. - How do you know that? - asks Ducky Lucky. - It hit Chicken Little on the head, - says Henny Penny. - May I come with you? - asks Ducky Lucky. - Come, - says Henny Penny.
So all three of them run on and on until they meet Foxey Loxey. - Where are you going? - asks Foxey Loxey. - The sky is falling and we are going to the lion to tell him about it, - says Ducky Lucky. - Do you know where he lives? - asks the fox. - I don't, - says Chicken Little. - I don't, - says Henny Penny. - I don't, - says Ducky Lucky. - I do, - says Foxey Loxey. - Come with me and I can show you the way.
He walks on and on until he comes to his den. - Come right in, - says Foxey Loxey. They all go in, but they never, ever, never come out again…
Sometimes signs are misunderstood or misinterpreted…
Sometimes we get all worked up because we think we know what’s going to happen... because we’ve felt a proverbial acorn of sorts drop on our head. This can cause us to act frantically and get upset and, in turn, get others to act frantic and upset. Until the whole thing leads to a tragic end…
The story of Henny Penny (or Chicken Little) is about interpreting signs. Chicken little felt an acorn, and she thought the sky was falling…
Jesus tells us to look for the signs… The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from heaven, and all the Heavens will be shaken. And then we will see Jesus himself up in the clouds with in all his majesty and kingly glory. He is warning us to prepare ourselves… Prepare ourselves for his return.
He points out that when we see things like this, it is a sign that he is near. However, we don’t need to get all excited running around like chicken little, worried about what will happen, or when it will happen… We need to trust that Jesus has said - it’s absolutely going to happen - He's going to come back. And it’s going to be when we least expect it.
After Jesus has told us about his return, He tells us what our responsibility is. He tells us to watch, be alert, wait, and anticipate. He doesn’t tell us that this is a passive waiting. Jesus explains what we are supposed to do. He explains his instructions by comparing it to man going on a journey, and leaving his servants in charge.
Jesus has gone on a journey or sorts, and he has left us responsible… Jesus has left us responsible - in charge of building up the kingdom while he is away…
As his church, we will all be held accountable when Jesus returns... accountable for what we have done with what he has entrusted to us. Accountable for what we haven’t done while he was away.
So, do we sit idle, staring into space, waiting for the moon or the sun to go out? Do we run around frantically, fussing over this or that, thinking that the sky is falling and ending up being eaten by the fox? Or do we do what Jesus says and wait?
The Church should engage in what I like to call active waiting. Not overly worrying about the signs that will be so blatantly evident we won’t be able to miss them or ignore them. But we should go about doing the work that Jesus has given us to do... To heal the sick, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. To strive for justice and peace, and keep striving to bring the kingdom of God to this broken world.
If we are doing the things that Jesus taught us, then when he returns, he recognize us... he will know that we are his church. That we are his people… his body gathered here on earth. He will recognize us, and know us.
But if we sit idle and do nothing... or if we act crazy and run around like chick little, getting everyone convinced that the sky is falling... Then Jesus will have a hard time recognizing us as his church.
Jesus says we can learn lessons from the ways of nature around us… He uses the example of the fig tree, and says when the branch becomes tender and the leaves spring forth, we know summer is near.
The same way, we can look around us and see the signs. The leaves are changing color and falling off of the trees, the air is getting cooler, the sun sets earlier and the days are getting shorter... We know, by these signs, that winter is near.
Winter is near, but It doesn’t freak us out. Winter is near, and we know we must prepare. Prepare by maybe getting some firewood, and making sure we have oil or fuel for the heater. We prepare by getting the winter coats out of the storage in the back of the closet. We prepare by getting those snow shovels and snow blowers staged, or maybe making sure the tire chains are ready. We can’t live in this area, and not know how to prepare for winter.
But, how do we prepare for the coming of Jesus?
Jesus tells us to keep watch. That’s what the season of advent is about. It’s about intentional, active waiting and preparing for Jesus. Preparing our hearts, preparing our minds, and preparing our lives by doing those things he has given us to do.
It’s about staying alert! Jesus calls us again to stay awake, to notice, and keep watch, because truthfully, he is always coming... the sad thing is that if we are not paying attenting, we are in danger of not being able to recognize it.
This is our most important task as his followers - to stay alert and be watchful. We are called to watch at ALL times... watch for Jesus, honor the image of God in each other... To search for it and honor it... We are to use our words and our actions to build up, not tear down.
Keeping alert and preparing for Jesus is not easy. It demands our complete attention to everything that we are and everything that we do... and it affects the relationships we have and the world that we live in.
If chicken little would have just looked up, she would have probably realized it was just an acorn that bopped her on the head. If she would have just paid attention to the signs around her and if she had been watchful and prepared, then maybe things would have turned out to be life giving, and positive, instead of life ending.
Jesus expects his disciples to follow. Follow where he leads the way. And the church has a job to do as we prepare for his return. Whether Jesus comes back today, tomorrow, next week, or in another thousand years, it doesn’t matter, TODAY is the day of our salvation.
If we looks closely at the signs, they should ALL point to the Only One who holds ALL the answers... all the answers to all the questions, issues and problems of this world.
So, my bidding today is Come, Lord Jesus, Come…