FEBRUARY 24, 2010
“Watch at All Times”
Job 1:1-22
Luke 21:34-22:6

The Gospel lesson for this day is a text which seeks to set the stage. You might say that it is a transitional section of the text. It is in-between the ministry of Jesus and the consequence of said ministry. It would be tempting to get up and go to the bathroom, purchase a snack, I don’t know what, but there is a tone here that prohibits it. Something is going to happen. If you are one who doesn’t realize it, Jesus comes right out and warns us, “But watch at all times…” He says.

The word ‘watch’ is one of those strange English words that can be a verb, with or without an object; or a noun as in a keeping awake for some special purpose: a watch beside a sickbed, or close, continuous observation for the purpose of seeing or discovering something. Jesus bids the disciples and us to watch.

To watch is a Christian Discipline. It is something Christians have done since this evening on the Mt. Olivet which Luke describes. It is called by other names, but essentially this Christian disciple is ‘to watch.’ We usually call it Contemplation, or Discernment. See, to watch in this way doesn’t mean to go out and sit in the meadow tomorrow afternoon and tell me what you see. No, it means to watch for what God is saying to us. “Christians believe that human beings have the capacity to hear, see, touch and feel God – a genuine sensing of truth and beauty through which we know God and know God’s will.” Contemplation, says the Quakers is ‘asking God to plow the row before we go.’ It is the invitation to let God into the equation and to open ourselves up for God’s movement. We watch by quieting ourselves so that we might listen more effectively. We contemplate scripture, or some other spiritual reading, quietly, in silence of body and tongue. In this time we listen for what God might be saying to us, we feel for that nudge, it is the answer to the “What does God want of us?” It is not what I want. So contemplation and discernment are dangerous.

I want to emphasize that in the Christian tradition this has always been a community practice. It begins on nights like tonight, in worship. It continues as we gather in our small groups of friends and amongst family. And, in our own prayers, those times of quietness and felicity that produce these inspirations.

Jesus calls disciples to Watch: to contemplate, to discern, to use our spiritual compass to travel this life; he does so because as well as anyone, he knows that difficulties and blessings can distract us.