One of life’s most wonderful blessings is the gift of sleep.  If you doubt that, talk to some person who suffers from chronic insomnia.  They dread going to bed for fear of  being unable to sleep.  They toss and turn throughout the night.  They get up the next morning, exhausted and frustrated by their inability to sleep.

Too much sleep is almost as detrimental as too little.  The person who constantly wants to sleep is either physically sick or emotionally depressed, or is just plain bored with life.  The story of Rip Van Winkle is an American legend about a man who slept for 20 years.  When he went to sleep, he was a subject of George III, who was king of England and ruler of the thirteen colonies.  When he woke up, he was a citizen of the United States.  He had slept through a revolution.

Obviously, that did not literally happen.  But the word sleep has more than one meaning.  It is sometimes used to describe an attitude toward life – an unawareness of what is taking place. 

On this Sunday of Advent, our Scripture readings ask us not to sleep our life away.  Don’t miss the things that are taking place all around you.  Open your heart and your mind to life.  Wake up and live.

This is a great time to be alive, but many of us do not realize that.  Many still dream of the good old days, when the world was less dangerous, and life was simpler and easier.  I sometimes share that dream.  But when I try to get specific, I am not sure when those good days were.

Roll back the clock a hundred and sixty years here in the USA and we would be at the beginning of the Civil War.  In terms of lives lost and blood shed, it was the most costly war this nation has ever fought.

World War I was fought, the Great Depression followed, and World War II after that.  Then the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and so on.  The plain truth is that there never have been any good old days. 

Understanding this, we need to turn our thoughts to the future and dream of the utopia described by Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks.  One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

What a wonderful day that will be!  But how do we think it will get here?  Will we wake up some day and find it on the front porch?  Will God just drop it down from heaven? 

I don’t think so.  We will get that kind of world when you and I become that kind of people.

We indeed live in a dangerous world, but it always has been.  Danger can turn us into cowards, or it can be used to call out our courage.  Today is a time of opportunity, a day when we ought to be at our best – to be just like Jesus.  “Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

On this Sunday of Advent, our Lord’s message to us is a ringing challenge.  Each day is a great time to wake up and live like Jesus. 

Use this Advent season well so that you can be more like Jesus each day and help Him to build a better life and a better world.