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Sleep Is An Opinion!

So stay awake... if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep (Mark 13:35,36) First Sunday of Advent

You remember the fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty"...

There is to be a royal wedding. The wicked witch is not invited. Angry over the snub, she puts a curse on the bride and groom (a prince and princess). According to the curse, they will have a daughter, and when she reaches age eighteen, she will prick her finger on a weaving spindle and she will die. The prince and princess manage to have the curse modified. Their daughter will not die when she pricks her finger on a weaving spindle. Instead, she will fall into a deep sleep for one-hundred years, or until she is brought back to life by the kiss of a handsome young prince. As a precaution, all weaving spindles are banned from the kingdom.

Well, the child is born, and on her eighteenth birthday she decides to explore all the far corners of the castle. The tour takes her to a remote tower where an old woman is spinning and weaving. The girl asks the old woman if she can try it. Whereupon, she pricks her finger on the spindle and falls into a deep sleep.

Many years pass, during which time the castle becomes run down and is eventually abandoned. Only "Sleeping Beauty" remains. Then it happens! A handsome young prince stumbles upon the old castle and discovers her. Captivated by her beautiful countenance, he kisses her and, lo and behold, she awakens! And the two go forth to live happily ever after.

One preacher has observed that the story of "Sleeping Beauty" has a lot in common with many real-life stories that go something like this:

...People reach early adulthood.

...They have everything going for them.

...But, as though on cue, they grab onto something called "conformity" and it "puts them to sleep," so to speak.

If we will only stay awake to the presence of Jesus in our lives, the fear and anxiety and discontent will give way to peace and joy and wholeness of life. This is exactly what happens as we receive God's Power and Love through Jesus Christ.

In today's Gospel, as we enter into the Advent Season, Jesus [...]

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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Husband and Wife

Dr Abby: My husband hates to spend money! I cut my own hair and make my own clothes, and I have to account for every nickel I spend. Meanwhile he has a stack of savings bonds that would choke a cow. How do I get some money out of him before we are both called to our final judgment? He says he’s saving for a rainy day . — Signed, Forty Years Hitched. Dear Hitched: Tell him it’s raining! — Signed, Abby.

Good Intentions

A man whose wife was sick decided that he would do the cooking. He did quite well at it until one day when he became very ambitious. He thought he would bake some bread. As often happens the first time around, he misread the recipe and he put two pounds of yeast into the dough. After faithfully following all the other instructions, he put the dough near the heat and waited. Some time later, his wife called down from her upstairs bedroom: “Have you put the dough in the oven yet, dear?” Frantically he replied, “Put it in the oven? I can’t even keep it in the kitchen!”

Husband and Wife, Communication, Emergency

“I have been in danger... in the towns, in danger in the open country” (II Corinthians 10:26). There is a story of a pioneer couple, Zeb and Martha, who staked a claim and settled down in an area where neighbors were few and far between. They built a cabin to live in, and a barn and corral for their livestock. In front of the cabin was a tree, and on the tree Zeb hung a big bell. He explained to Martha that there were outlaws roaming around. “When I’m out in the field,” he said, “I want you to ring this bell in case you really need me. But, remember, ring the bell only in an emergency.” Days later, as Zeb rode into the fields to cut wood, he heard the bell ring and he immediately headed home at full gallop. “What’s wrong,” he asked Martha anxiously. “I just thought you’d like some fresh coffee,” Martha replied. “Now listen once again carefully,” Zeb said. “The bell is for emergencies only. Half the day is gone and I’ll have a hard time finishing my chores now.” Once more he rode out into the field, and as he picked up his axe to begin chopping wood, once more he heard the bell ringing. Again he started for home, full speed ahead. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “The washtub’s leaking,” Martha replied. “That’s no emergency,” Zeb said. “I can take care of the washtub later. Right now I have to chop wood.” And off he went! After an hour ’s chopping, Zeb heard the bell ring for the third time. He immediately charged home to find the cabin in flames, the barn burned to the ground and the livestock stampeding. Then he saw Martha, slumped near the bell, tied to the tree. “Now, Martha,” Zeb exclaimed, “this is more like it!” Sensebough, P., Milwaukee Sentinel (Adapted).

Love, Faith, Perseverance

“...there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). In the late sixties, James Baldwin wrote a play about a hand-clapping, Gospel-singing storefront Church in Harlem. The play is called “The Amen Corner.” The Church’s minister is a woman with a large voice and a flowing white robe. Everyone calls her “Sister Margaret.” When she first takes over as the Church’s minister, Sister Margaret’s life hits some very rough spots. She tries her best to get the Message of the Risen Lord through to her congregation but she’s a failure at it; she just can’t find the right way to do it. Then her husband walks into Church and collapses, gravely ill. Her son walks out of the Church, telling his mother that he just can’t “feel the Spirit” anymore, now that she is the leader of the congregation. And the rest of the congregation begins to come up with reasons for rejecting Sister Margaret. In the play’s final scene, Sister Margaret is faced with the reality that her life is spinning out of control. She is losing everything. Her husband is dying. Her son is gone. Her people have decided to ask her to leave. In the midst of all the chaos, she prays to her Lord and Master for guidance. And, suddenly, it all comes together for her, and she says to her sister: All these years I prayed as hard as I knowed how. I tried to put my treasure in heaven where couldn’t nothing get at it and take it away from me ... I asked the Lord to hold my hand. I didn’t expect that none of this would ever arise to hurt me no more. And all these years it just been waiting for me, waiting for me to turn a corner. And there it stand, my whole life, just like I hadn’t never gone nowhere. It’s a awful thing to think about, the way love never dies. Then it’s Sunday morning and Sister Margaret must now go into Church and face her people who are ready to tell her that they want her to leave. She steps into the pulpit and says: I come up here to put you children on your knees! But it doesn’t work ...and everybody knows it. Children, I’m just now finding out what it means to love the Lord. It ain’t all in the singing and the shouting. It ain’t all in the reading of the Bible. It ain’t even ... it ain’t even in running all over everybody, trying to get to heaven. To love the Lord is to love all His children — all of them! Everyone! And suffer with them and rejoice with them, and never count the cost! Lord ... Give us a pure and burning heart To know and own the Love Thou art. Lord ... Give us a pure and burning heart Eager to share the love Thou art. Roberts, G.H., “The Right To Be Called Christians” (adapted).