And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (NIV)
OK, so I just have to say I think this is hilarious, and have been looking forward to making this post today. To think that THIS is the lectionary reading this week, while I am on vacation… on this cruise…
As you know, I have been on vacation. We have been regular tourists for the past week, visiting the Kennedy Space Center, relaxing on the beach, and having Thanksgiving with my mother’s siblings. Now my vacation is turning a corner. The second part of this vacation is what is known as “The High Seas Rally.” We are on a pirate themed cruise out of Tampa (home of the Buccaneers) taking in three stops in the Caribbean…a sold out cruise of motorcycle riders. Imagine, if you will, a whole ship-full of Harley-Davidson (and other kinds of road bikes as well, but mostly Harley) riders from all over the world gathered to fill up the ENTIRE cruise ship. This is the 20th annual cruise of this sort, and the first one to book the whole ship. Before this, there were ‘normal’ passengers aboard as well as the bikers to balance things out. Not this time. We are in people-watching heaven.
My husband has had a bike for about 15 years and wanted one longer than that. He has dreamed for years of going on this cruise. Now we are here and he is so excited to be here. (I will admit one of my favorite rides at Disneyland is Pirates of the Caribbean! I cannot lie, I belong on this cruise too.) I volunteered to do services tomorrow. I might be surprised, but I do not expect a large crowd of worshippers. Legend has it that on the first one of these cruises the ship ran out of alcohol. The staff was simply unprepared for the hard partying that bikers are known for. I can see on the first afternoon already there are more than a few who are cutting loose. And the lectionary reading is about avoiding carousing, drunkenness and debauchery! How did they know?!?!?
This passage does remind us that living the life of faith is serious business. It is a life or death endeavor… especially when believers are being persecuted to the extent that their lives are being required of them. We don’t have that to contend with, and so I can make light of being on a ‘party cruise’ and not have to worry that my soul will be in mortal danger. Not so with the Christ followers in Paul’s day. They had to watch what they said. They had to be on guard. One slip and it could be over. They couldn’t afford to let down their guard; they had to be watchful.
We would do well to be on guard as well. We need to guard ourselves that we don’t take life too lightly; and that we don’t take our freedoms too lightly either. We have it easy in the first world. We can worship as we see fit. People might not understand. Many might think it strange to live a life of faith, but nobody is waiting to behead us for following Jesus. None of us are going to be thrown to the lions in the coliseum for sport because of our faith.
So keep the faith my friends, and remember that the life of faith is serious business.
Blessings to you,