“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Gracious goodness how fast has the course of 2020 flown. Here we are into the year 2021. What a year 2020 was – with stories on the lips of every living soul on planet earth, all of which are etched in memories of doom and gloom, and phrases such as “I never thought I would.”
An old folk song as sung by our forebears at watch night services is Spare Me Another Year, O Lord.” Many, and some even highly intoxicated, become fearful and flock to churches just in case the coming of the Lord will find them perhaps singing and on their knees.
The unknown; who knows and can rightly predict? But those who are in Christ sing lustily, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know who holds tomorrow.” What faith!
When I heard of the tragedy of the couple who lost their lives on Christmas day in a car crash, not knowing then who they were, I began to cry out to God for those who would mourn. Did they know as they began the celebration of the day that morning that when they got out of bed they would never, ever return to it? Did they know that the day would be their last day?
In our lesson text today, the Apostle Paul is giving us our charge for 2021 and he does so by applying the metaphor so that our spiritual alertness will be encouraged – people stay awake during the daytime, sleep during the night, but it is mostly at night that drunkards get drunk. At another time I will address the serious scourge of alcohol that has brought this nation to its knees in terms of assault on the family, desolation and degradation. Rum is so easily available, insomuch that there are sellers less than 200 feet apart!
As Christians, we are always to stay spiritually awake and sober. Mr. Timothy Gibson, in our National Anthem urges and admonishes us to lift up our heads to the dawning of another day full of opportunities, because the world has us on their radar screen. To be awake is to be aware of God, alert to his opportunities and watchful against the attack of the enemy.
This new year, Satan has increased the number of booby traps, ambushes, and the forces of evil against the children of God, but thanks be to God, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Christians, seek not yet repose; hear thy guardian angel say, thou are in the midst of does, watch and pray.
The armor of God is made up of faith, hope and love, and this has been the church’s qualitative watchwords down through the ages. How can one go wrong with this awesome threesome.
We give God thanks for the journey thus far; and as Samuel J. Stone, (1839-1900), an Anglican pastor, known as the poor man’s pastor, wrote in his hymn, “The old year’s long campaign is o’er; behold a new begun. Not yet is closed the holy war; not yet the triumph won. Out of his still and deep repose we hear the old year say: ‘Go forth again to meet your foes, ye children of the day’.
“Go forth! Firm faith on every heart; bright hope on every helm. Through that shall pierce no fiery dart, and this no fear o’erwhelm. Go in the spirit and the might of Him who led the way. Close with the legions of the night, ye children of the day.
“So forth we go to meet the strife, we will not fear nor fly. We love the holy warrior’s life, His death we hope to die. We slumber not, this charge in view. Toil on, while toil ye may. Then night shall be no night to you, ye children of the day.”
Lord God, our Glory, Three in One, Thine own sustain, defend. And give, though dim this earthly sun. Thy true light to the end; till morning tread the darkness down. And night be swept away, and infinite sweet triumph crown, the children of the day.
Indeed, the journey continues with the strength that God has given us through His Son, Jesus the Christ.