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Mar 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 21, 2021



And [Jesus] came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46

Intro: Are you ready for another dose of our morning meds?

Our meditation medication relieves a common disorder
spiritual somnambulism–sleepwalking through life
Anthony de Mello begins his book Awareness, “Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human existence.”
• waking up was one of my morning meds last week

Jesus asked his drowsy disciples, “Why are you sleeping?”

We know the “why,” because Luke told us, they were sleeping for sorrow
– I used to think Luke was making an excuse for them,
• but grief can be exhausting,
• and a dark cloud of sadness hung over their table-talk that night
this will be our last meal together
one of you will betray me
the Son of Man goes as it has been determined
Simon, Simon, Satan demanded to have you
you will deny that you even know me
◦ so even though Jesus asked them to pray, they slept
◦ all of this sad news wore them out
– this is something about myself that I do not like–at all:
• when there’s a time I should stay awake, but I cannot
◦ excessive sleepiness feels like a helplessness state
• I think it’s similar to cowardice in face of sudden danger
(our nervous system takes over, allowing us no time to think)
◦ like when Peter was caught off-guard later that night
◦ I don’t think it was because he lacked courage,
but at that moment he lacked the grace to be courageous
God had not supplied the grace to suffer and die with Jesus–that time

The disciples could not resolve Jesus’ question with a simple answer
– “We were too sad,” “We were really, really sleepy”
• these excuses are not good enough
• they do not justify how the disciples could let this happen
◦ and at this critical hour?
◦ not now when the mob is at the gate and Judas is leading them
– it is not uncommon for us to have sleepless nights
• kept awake by illness or pain, anxieties or an emergency
◦ even if we’re fatigued and want sleep, it eludes us
• this was one of those nights, for Jesus
◦ his sorrow was infinitely greater than his desciples’
◦ but instead of being there for him, they slept through his agony

Jesus taught us to pray our way around temptation

Or to pray temptation away, or pray our way through it
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
– we pray to enlist God’s help
Pray that you may not enter into temptation (v. 40)
• we don’t have to go through hard times alone
• or God can prevent us from making a wrong turn,
◦ and walk ourselves into a deadly situation we can’t manage
– that means prayer oftentimes includes listening
• when God has our attention in prayer, he speaks as well as listens
• so even if something unexpected happens,
◦ we’re not caught off-guard completely

Meditating on this verse, I heard Jesus asking me,
“Why are you sleeping?”

Sometimes I’m very much aware of what God has not given me
– or what has been taken from me
• but when I’m awake, I realize what Jesus has given me
• he has given me moments
◦ not a few superb moments scattered through my lifetime,
◦ but a continuous stream of moments
and God’s Spirit inhabits each one of them
– these moments flow through bright patches of sunlight,
• and valleys darkened by the shadow of death
• but in each moment, there is something worth noticing,
◦ something that awakens a sense of awe, of wonder

Sometimes when I’m reading, I remember to be aware
– that I can practice awareness any time, no matter what I’m doing
• so I switch to a different level of experience
• I am still reading, but even while reading, I am aware of myself reading
◦ I don’t miss anything on the page,
◦ but I’ve added a depth to my experience of reading
– there is this moment, right now –as I’m talking to you
• your mind may have drifted off or you may still be listening
◦ but right now you can become aware of yourself, listening
• Anthony de Mello is right, we walk in our sleep
◦ moreover, we talk in our sleep, and listen in our sleep
◦ we do these things, but we’re not aware that we’re doing them
◦ and not being aware, we’re not getting the full experiencing of life
• we may have lots of thoughts about life,
◦ but that is not same as experiencing what it is to be alive

My youngest son, Scotty, has three children, ages nine, eleven, and thirteen. Awhile back, when peeling oranges for them, they complained if there were any “strings” of rind on them. (When I was a kid, I was told that all the parts of a fruit I did not want to eat were “the best” for me.) So when I’m preparing for Addy (Scotty’s oldest daughter), I carefully remove all strings. This takes extra time when I’m already nervous about getting her to school on time, I don’t enjoy doing it. It is not unusual for Addy to share her lunch with a friend. One day as her friend took a section of Addy’s orange, she remarked, “Wow! This orange was peeled with care.” After Addy told me about this comment, I’ve found myself waking up to these moments when I’m gingerly removing strings from oranges. I think of my granddaughter, whom I love, and this one simple task that she’ll never remember when she’s all grown up. Being aware of what I am doing in those moments, blesses the for me.
– sometimes I catch an expression on the face of one of my grandchild
• or hear them say something with the richness of their childlike expression
◦ I appreciate their specific ages and personalities
◦ and in that moment I sense awe and feel reverence
• how can I think that doing simple chores is a waste of time,
◦ when moments of wonder are flowing through them?

How can we wake ourselves up to our God-filled moments?

Can we set a spiritual alarm clock, so that when it goes off, we
hear Jesus’ voice, “Why are you sleeping?”
– how do we start any new and exciting project?
• we clear off our desks – or table, workbench, an area on the floor
◦ we create a space where we’ll do our work
• we can also create the mental space we need in order to notice what’s here
◦ remove anxiety, resentment, regrets, intrusive thoughts
◦ what St. Paul said, is we remove from our mins includes
arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)
– sometimes to do this, we must first relax our bodies
• a tense body keeps the mind tense
• and a tense mind increases muscular tension

When Jesus was with his disciples after the resurrection, John says,
he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:21)
– this gift of the breath of life, that God has given us,
• is a great “biological app” for waking up and noticing
◦ you don’t have to run around looking for your breath,
◦ or make an appointment, or pull it out of the closet like a yoga mat
• it is always right here – if it’s not here, then neither are you
– feel the air that enters your nostrils and touches the back of your throat
• see if you can feel it all the way into your lungs
• notice how a deep, cleansing breath causes your chest to expand
◦ if you receive God’s Spirit with your breath, notice
◦ how your body and mind are blessed with a relaxed state
– you can almost feel heart rate slowing, BP dropping
– take a moment to enjoy that – to give thanks for it

Two other wake-up exercises – briefly:
1.) Take one of your daily habits–brushing your teeth, tying your shoes
– turn off your automatic pilot and pay attention to everything body does
• for five minutes, watch your fingers and notice all that they do
• for instance in getting dressed, starting your car, picking up a cup
2.) Choose one object or idea and notice the pure experience of it
– don’t use words or labels to describe it
• and don’t analyze it – if it’s blue, the feel sensation of blueness

If we practice five minutes every day–ten minutes if you have them–
– then anywhere, any time you can wake yourself up to the here and now
– you will be able to notice the wonder and feel reverence of each moment

Conclusion: Listen to the logic of a lesson Jesus taught

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also (Jn. 12:26)
Where will we find Jesus?
Since we are his servants, we find him here, now
Why are you sleeping?
Wake up!
And now,
on to your next moment

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