Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY
A couple of weeks ago I received a scary phone call from my wife. It was the kind that started by saying, “Don’t worry, but…” And we all know what happens when we hear those words… we worry. She continued, “Our daughter [1-year-old] and I were in an accident… we’re okay, but… well… you better come here.” As I drove to the accident scene there was already a line of cars a mile long. I drove on the shoulder, and when I got to the accident the first thing I saw was my car smashed like an accordion in the side panel of a flatbed delivery truck. Admittedly, I didn’t look too closely as I really didn’t care about the car at that point. After a moment I saw my wife and daughter, and to my relief they were okay. So was the other driver. Whew.
After a check-up at the hospital and some x-rays we drove to the collision shop our car was towed to in order to get a couple of things from the car. It was at this point that reality sunk in for me. The car was demolished.
Every airbag deployed. The hood was through the windshield. The engine was a crumpled up mess of steel and hoses. I couldn’t believe that my wife and child were sitting in the car just moments before. And even more than that, I couldn’t believe that they just walked away.
And in a moment time changed. Immediately every second that passed seemed way more precious than all of the seconds before, and suddenly I had a sense of urgency. With every ‘what if’ that crossed my mind, I focused on the immediacy of the time at hand.
But then I felt guilty. I felt guilty for the ways I typically squander my time. For the hours I spend watching Facebook instead of spending quality face time with my kids. For the times I find myself sitting at the dinner table thinking about all of the things I have to do, in a rush to get up, instead of being present with my family. For the ways I can go through the motions instead of living in the moment.
And I know I’m not alone. Life has a way of lulling us to sleep. Next thing we know we look at our watch or the calendar and we wonder what happened? “Lost time” is an expression for a reason. And it’s nothing new.
It’s why I need to hear Jesus’ words from the gospel of Luke. Jesus said, “Be dressed for action. Have your lamps lit. Be like those who are waiting for their master to return… ready at any moment… so they can open the door when he comes and knocks.” The preciousness and urgency of time may be lost on us, but it’s certainly not lost on Jesus. He calls us to be ready at any moment. To live expecting him to come walking through the door any minute.
But we’re not always dressed for action are we? In fact most of the time we are a “later” people. We push life off like a diet we are going to start next Monday. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, even it if is Monday, we’re starting that diet next Monday. The problem, of course, is that there’s always a next Monday. We push life off that way too. And so time slips… we sleep… and in the end we miss out. And all because we’re not dressed for action. We’re not engaged in the moment with God, with each other, or even with ourselves. But Jesus invites us to light our lamps and watch.
The night of the accident it fell upon me to give our daughter a bath. Now, I’ve given her countless baths before, but somehow this one was different. As I washed her belly I noticed the bruises that had formed on her shoulders and chest. But, strangely, do you know what I saw? I saw God’s grace and life. The bruises told the story of God holding my family in the palm of his hand, and I was overcome by the moment.
Life is precious and time is urgent, so be dressed for action. Light your lamps and live in this moment. Keep watch! God is coming. And may we live alert… aware… and present. God is all around us, in every moment, and in everything. May we heed Jesus’ words and live life ready to greet him.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.