This Week's Focus -  "Semper Paratus"  
     Click Link for Luke 12:32-40



Dear Friends,

Besides many helpful hints about water safety, we can learn a lot from the U.S. Coast Guard. Their motto is “Semper Paratus.” But “Always Ready” is more than their motto; it is the way that they live. And it has served them well… through two centuries of hurricanes and shipwrecks, floods and wars. Living with the certain knowledge that danger is always approaching can either paralyze you… or it can empower you. Being ready for threats helps make them manageable. It empowers the Coast Guard to meet the inevitable with courage and competence. And that is Christ’s message to us in this week’s gospel: Semper Paratus… be Ready Always… accept responsibility… don’t run from it… don’t hide from it. Be prepared… and have faith that with God’s help, all will come right.

This is good advice when faced with big issues and small ones. It is literally a matter of life and death when faced with the biggest issue of all… the transition from mortality to eternal life. Let’s follow Christ’s advice. Let’s get ready. But wishing won’t make it so. It’s not a push-button process. You have to work at it. And to begin with, you have to be aware.

“Awareness” is the first stage of readiness. It is a gross understatement to say that God, who made our every atom, is aware of us. In fact, our every thought, word and deed are performed in his presence. We have no secrets from him. His presence is not nine to five. He doesn’t take coffee breaks, much less holidays. God is with us, around us and in us at all times. In return we must be actively aware of him.

There are two levels of awareness. The most obvious is “situational awareness” … knowing what is going on around us. Beyond that is “strategic awareness” … living in the moment, but not being driven by the moment… processing the sensory input we receive in the context of our God-driven purpose… and deliberately acting to further that purpose under any circumstances. It is the opposite of sleep-walking through life or being a slave to habits and appetites.    
Situational and strategic awareness lead to “Commitment” -- the next phase of readiness. While God sees all, he is not a disinterested spectator. He did not create the universe just to casually check in every now and then to see how things are going in our corner of the cosmos. God is committed to us; we must be committed to him. We are his beloved… the capstone of his creation. Embracing that belief is the bed-rock of commitment. It is a requisite to readiness… a readiness that is not a passive posture, but a keenly proactive stance.

“Conversation” is the next phase of readiness. God is not a silent partner. He is not a distant scorekeeper. Knowing his will requires constant conversation with him. We talk and we listen. We call that conversation “prayer.” And through prayerful conversation with God, we get to know him… to know his will, to know his love. Through conversation with God we develop a prayer-life. Our prayers are no longer rare, desperate pleas to a distant stranger. They are an ongoing, intimate dialog… that gives us guidance… keeps us aware… renews our commitment… prepares us for the final element of readiness… “Constancy.”

In this week’s gospel, Jesus tells us that part-time readiness is simply wishful thinking. Our awareness must be constant. Our commitment must be constant. Our prayerful conversation must be constant. Constancy adds the essential “Semper” … the “Always” ingredient… to our readiness. And we need to be always ready, because as Jesus warns us… tests come: “…at a time when you don’t expect.”

Being prepared means actively trusting in the Lord; knowing God loves us; knowing he is not playing gottcha games with us. Our preparation is not to fend off his vengeance, but to know and accept his will, to rejoice in his love. But we’re human. Being ready will not completely eliminate our fear of mortality. But it will ease our transition to eternity... seamlessly continuing our conversation with God… from this life into the next. Being prepared means to live in hope today, not to live in fear of tomorrow.

As Jesus teaches: “Sometimes Ready” is not an option. Neither is “Always Just About to be Ready.” Clearly: “Always Ready” is our only option. In that knowledge, let’s embrace the serenity of a life in Christ. Let’s use the grace he gives us to be prepared and stay prepared. It won’t take away all of life’s hard knocks and surprises. But come what may, if we are ready, if we are in constant communion with Christ, the life God gave us will surprise and delight us… Always.

God love you!

A Reflection for The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 7, 2016

©The Reverend David F. Sellery
St. John’s Church, Salisbury, Connecticut

Copyright © 2016 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

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