Posts Tagged Sleep

Matthew 2:13-23 “Cutting Through the Clutter to Find God” JUMC 20131229

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:  “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,  “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” [NRSV]

Joseph and his dreams

  • OT: It is Jacob’s son, Joseph who has visions and dreams where God is revealed to him even as a child.
  • His dream that the shafts of wheat would bow down to him offended his brothers who sold him into slavery.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph becomes known as one who interprets dreams as God’s messages. Later he is called on to explain Pharaoh’s dreams and describes how they will have abundant years followed by lean years. Pharaoh placed Joseph as is second-in-charge to prepare for the years of famine.
  • During the drought, Joseph’s brothers journey to Egypt and to Joseph’s court asking for food to feed their family. After some testing, he reveals himself to his brothers that enslaved him who bow before him. His dream is revealed over the span of his life.
  • NT: Now Mary’s husband, and Jesus’s foster parent, our Joseph from today’s text continues the experience of God speaking through dreams.
  • God sends an angel to comfort and assure Joe when Mary becomes pregnant.
  • God speaks in a dream warning Joseph to leave town and avoid Herod and his plot to kill the baby Jesus.
  • God uses Joe’s dreams to direct him to live in Egypt. (Note the geography similarity to Jacob’s Joseph in Genesis.)
  • God speaks in a dream to call Joseph to return to Israel and leave the far country to return home.
  • God uses Joe’s dream to direct him away from Herod’s son and to live in Galilee region in the city of Nazareth.

Does Joseph Sleeps Alot?

  • I don’t think he slept too much, but it seems that is the time that Joseph was most receptive of God’s word and direction.
  • It is rare that God speaks through thundering clouds and a voice from heaven rubbles down.
  • It is more common that God speaks through other people, through music, through art, and through creation itself.
  • Not everyone pays attention during the sermon: ref. “Best Sleep I get all Week..”
  • Not everyone enjoys singing or pays attention to the words.
  • Not everyone is patient enough to listen after exhausting our list of petitions in prayer.
  • Some folk are too busy at work, at school or even in their own homes.

Joseph is one of those who God found his attention when everything else was laid to rest.

Where and When is God Most Likely to Speak to You?

Just as we might hope and expect to find presents under a Christmas Tree, we hope and expect to find God when we are a church. Gathered with God’s people doing good and right service, witness and worship. But there are times that we are too preoccupied with something else even when we are in the “God Zone.”

The original intention of Sabbath as a day of rest was not simply to cease working. It is a vacation from our vocation. A clearing of the table that cluttered with junk and find the level foundation where we can begin afresh.

As we continue in this season of Christmas, carve out time to be silent, open and patient for God.

It might be easier now that most of the holiday festivities are behind us. Possibly now is a better time to find Christ born anew than at the reenactment of the nativity.

The shepherds took a bigger than broadway production to get their attention.

The wise men looked to distant star and calculations and a map.

Marry and Joseph had their sleep interrupted.

Have you ever had trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep after waking up?

It seems that is my every-night struggle.

Rather than fight it, take that time listen for God.

Prayer journaling, FB chatting  (you’d be surprised who is up ready to pray with you), read the Psalms (That will put you to sleep for Just ask God to speak. Be quiet and listen.

No matter the time of day or night, we can sleep and work right through God’s message and guidance.

Out fears, worries, control, stubbornness and uncertainty can cloud our visions and keep us apart.

Turn the Christmas tree lights back on, light a candle (that you blow out before falling asleep), and pray for the Light of Word to Open your heart and mind.

Speak to us and give us ears to hear and hearts to trust and minds to believe.

Let us know what you hear from God.

Joseph did.. as we see how God protected, prepared, moved and shaped Joseph and his family throughout their lives. A pretty good example if you ask.

Merry Christmas.. See you next Sunday.. it will still be Christmas then too.

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Mark 4.35-41 “Sofa Sleeping” JUMC 20120625

The calm sea of galilee

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSV]

If I have trouble sleeping, my retreat is the sofa in the living room and not the over-stuffed reclining Lazy Boy™ in the den. The living room sofa is near the big window that overlooks the darken yard with steams of street light between the trees that reveals a peaceful silent scene that is a contagious place for dreamy visions. That living room sofa, while comfortable for sitting for a decent conversation after dinner is not a good sleeping sofa. It is too short for a comfortable all-night sleep and the pillows are not the right size for good cranial support. But this space is separated from the glowing television and midnight bathroom traffic jams. I can stand to sleep there just long enough to benefit from the dark, cool refreshment that makes the bed most inviting and comfortable by comparison.

If I attempt to sleep in the snuggly sofa in the den I find myself turning on the television and watching some old move that I would not otherwise watch and awake to the blaring barking of an infomercial and a stiffness in my back that each require my alert attention before stumbling back to the bed to recover.

Have you ever taken the worries and fears of the day to bed with you? Instead of counting sheep we try counting troubles and obligations, responsibilities and impossibilities, or fears and failures get replayed in our minds and we hope to wear out our minds, which bring quite unsettled dreams if we even remember what we dreamed in what felt like a fifteen minute nap that took six hours to find.

Have you ever watch a child sleep ever so sweetly in the warmth of a favorite blanket, clutching the familiar  yet ragged stuffed, plush friend and watch the deep, smooth and peaceful breaths of tranquil relaxation? They are so peaceful we want to shake just a little to make sure they are still with us in some envious desire to share their carefree bliss..

Have you ever fought back sleep, straining to remain present with someone ill or even near their final breath? Wanting to hear the certainty of life giving air and afraid that this next labored breath might be just one of ten thousand last breaths, or not. Fatigues and dazed we think that if we remain alert that we could postpone or add a single breath to a loved-one’s life by our breathing or holding our breath.. And our bodies hunger for rest that we deny them in the name of love and the exercise of grief.

It is nearly impossible to place ourselves “in the boat” with the disciples and Jesus. In reading and hearing this text from Mark, we have the opportunity to step into the storm with the disciples but we do it only with our awareness of Jesus’s strength and trustworthiness from our perspective of faith, our knowing and trusting the whole story. It is easy from our vantage point to say, ‘Trust Jesus’ or ‘You’re going to be ok’.

But things are not always so simple. Things are not always ok. Our storms rage and our troubles toss our lives around. And we doubt, fear, question and panic as though we have no faith at all. It seems simple to go and find Jesus from out point of view.

As a parent it does seem that on those rare occasions when all seems well and we anticipate sleeping in the next morning with no demands upon our time, that we encounter the nights that children have nightmares, the dogs sense some intruding squirrel just outside the door, or the stormy night sets off the weather alert alarm and everyone ends up in the bathroom for forty minutes, that make voice the dreams of a peaceful night. Our prayers are for the morning to come.

The passage is about sleep but not so much about our sleep. It is about the times and circumstances where we wonder if God is asleep at the wheel. People are hungry in deep poverty and famine and we ask, “Does God care that so many are hungry?” Millions of parent-less children in Africa die from AIDS, “Is God aware?” Countries are in economic turmoil and on the edge of financial collapse, “Is God still around?” Nations at war, terrorism threatening at home and around the globe, “What is Jesus doing asleep when we need him most?”

There answer(s) come with two assurances. 1) We living in a world where storms, not of our doing threaten to kill and destroy. We enter somethings knowingly and some catch us off-guard, either way we are powerless alone. Which begs #2) It is when the disciples recognize they cannot save themselves that the finally turn to Jesus for saving.

Ah Ha! The Peace, in the storm is found, when turning to Jesus.

It does not prevent storm, fear and terror, but it is ever present along with, during and after. They question is: Q: What if at the first sign of trouble the disciples had gone to Jesus? What if they had gone to Jesus first before waiting to the last?

Over and over the miracles of Jesus show people who have tried every remedy, waiting many years, struggle through rejections, fear, or shame finally ask Jesus into their lives and new life, whole life is found.

Is this the peace that Jesus offers. In our storms Jesus finds the sofa and waits for us to come to his side. Lord Jesus help us, save us, hold us… give us your peace.

Jesus waits, don’t be afraid to wake him, Again and Again, His rest is ours if we ask… What are you waiting for? Find Peace in Him who calms every storm. Amen.

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