Being Ready…

Matthew 26:26-30

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Monday and Tuesday, February 10 & 11, were interesting days in our community. If you remember, those were the two days leading up to the big ice and snowstorm that hit South Carolina. If your house was anything like our house, and I suspect it was, then a huge focus of those two days was getting ready for what appeared to be ahead.

At our home getting ready included several things: we bought groceries, stocked up on batteries, moved wood for the fireplace to a dry spot, prepared the air mattress in case we needed to sleep in the den due to power loss, brought work home, purchased a battery powered lantern and did several other things. Like you, we simply wanted to be prepared.

Getting ready is a part of everyday life. It is very common for us to anticipate an event on the horizon and thus do everything within our power to prepare for its arrival. This is a smart practice not only in the normal affairs of life but this is also a good practice in the life of faith too.

Even in this day there are numerous reminders in front of us of the call to be ready as believers. For one, there is the decision that the Martins and the Blacks have made in having their girls dedicated. They are readying themselves even now to raise their daughters in the ways of faith.

Earlier this morning, we spoke about the opportunities of Lent at our church in the days ahead. Lent, is simply a 40-day period of getting ready for Easter. It is a call to prayer, Bible study and reflection so that we are prepared to truly celebrate Jesus’ resurrection when Easter arrives.

And, without question, our text for today is also about readiness. In it, Jesus was trying to prepare his disciples for what was ahead in his life and their lives. He wanted to try to help them to understand and know in advance the meaning of his death and its value for them. In turn, he tried to get them ready by comparing his life and his death to the common elements of their evening meal—the bread and the cup. His hope was that they would remember this lesson as a way of understanding the coming events.

But why? Why was getting ready so important for them and why is getting ready for what God is going to do in our midst important for us such an important spiritual practice? Certainly there are numerous, good and helpful answers to this question. But perhaps the best is the simple fact that the presence, movement and nearness of God is easy to miss. In turn, since it is so difficult to see the holy we must prepare ourselves to seek and look for the kingdom in our lives.

In the horrors of the world, it is easy to miss God’s goodness. In the heartache of life, it is easy to dismiss God’s presence. In the mundaneness of everyday it is easy to fail to recognize the holy. In a common loaf of bread and a glass it is more difficult to be reminded of Christ’s life and sacrifices than not. God is a part of every day in palpable ways, but oh how easy it is, to live life at a hurried, frantic pace and miss it all.

This past week, I enjoyed the chance to go to the Newberry Opera House for the first time. I was very impressed by the history and beauty of the Opera House and I loved the musical that we saw which was the classic Man of La Mancha. Man of La Mancha is the Broadway version of the Spanish author Cervantes’ work called Don Quixote. I had seen Man of La Mancha before and remembered loving the music but had forgotten much of the story.

The story focuses on a gentleman during the Spanish Inquisition who has been thrown into prison. There he tells his fellow prisons the story of dreamer named Don Quixote—a man who dreamed of himself as a knight and of his good friend as his squire. This dreamer saw what others failed to see at every turn. Instead of a windmill he saw a dragon. He fancied a roadside tavern as a castle and the tavern barkeep as the Lord of the Manor. And, perhaps his biggest dream was envisioning a local lady with a sordid past as a fair maiden whom he called Dulcinea.

The beauty of this tale is the story’s haunting question. Who was right—those who considered this man crazy because he saw things that were not there, or, this man, this dreamer who dared to believe and to see wonderful things where the world saw only ruin, decay and ugliness? Faith works the same way. God is hard to see out there in the ugly, the decay and the heartaches of life. Therefore we must prepare in here to seek the kingdom out there. If we don’t, oh how easy it will be to miss the presence of God that is literally all around us if we have eyes to see it. Amen.