Summary: What to say when you are found sleeping at your desk - Be prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven arriving unexpectedly: preparation through Baptism and the Eucharist.
Sermon: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Parish Mass with Holy Baptism
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Be Prepared! The motto of the Scouting Movement. It is a motto which would serve us all well this morning, as we should be properly prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Today’s Gospel tells of how we should be prepared and not caught napping. I am a longtime and avid user of email. What used to lighten my working day were the jokes that used to circulate around offices and indeed around the world almost instantly via email. One memorable one was the “TEN BEST THINGS TO SAY IF YOU GET CAUGHT SLEEPING AT YOUR DESK”. Now, I never had to put any of these into practice, I can assure you, but if the boss was to find me face-down on my keyboard, I could be prepared with some of these responses:
"Thank You! I must have left the top off the Tipp-Ex. You probably got here just in time!"
"Why did you interrupt me? I had almost worked out a solution to our biggest problem."
But the number one, all time, best thing to say if you get caught sleeping at your desk is…
"…in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen."
That is what I call being prepared.
In the same way, Matthew is being prepared for a life in Christ, and with Christ through this sacrament of Holy Baptism. Baptism, like all of the sacraments, enables us to come closer to God through everyday things. In this baptism, we see water, oil and the flame of a candle signify a radical transformation in Christ, just as later this morning we will see at the Eucharist, bread and wine transformed, and we who receive that bread and wine also transformed through the grace of the sacrament.
But baptism is not just about a physical act – not just a quick shower on a Sunday morning; for that physicality is symbolic of something far deeper and more important: a promise, indeed a number of promises made on Matthew’s behalf. Promises such as the promise to turn from sin, to renounce the evil in this world and most significantly, to embrace Christ.
These are the promises which parents and godparents specifically make on behalf of Matthew. When they make them, in the presence of this congregation, I sincerely hope that those promises remind us of our own baptism; remind us of those promises made by our parents and godparents, remind us ourselves of our own commitment to the way of Christ. As we welcome Matthew into God’s loving family, we remind ourselves what is means to belong to the family, the church of God.
It is these promises which prepare us for the Kingdom of God. As heard this morning. the Kingdom of God will surely come, and come when we least expect it. Be prepared, Our Lord and Saviour warns us: be prepared for the knock on the door that heralds the unexpected, the long-awaited.
So how shall Matthew be made ready for that knock at the door, whenever it comes? How will all of us be made ready?
This is where parents, Godparents, all their friends and relatives and indeed the whole congregation here present has a role and a responsibility: prayer.