Advent Series 2: Time to wake up

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And what I say to you I say to all: keep awake. – Jesus of Nazareth, Mark 13:37

This is all the more urgent, the hour has come for you to wake from sleep for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. – The Apostle Paul, Romans 13:11

By Bruce Stanley, President / CEO of Methodist Home for Children

In the vigorous debates resulting from Colin Kaepernick’s protest, the phrase “stay woke” has repeatedly appeared. Most credit Erykah Badu with introducing the phrase in a 2008 recording, “Master Teacher.” It quickly entered America’s slang lexicon and was originally understood to convey hyperawareness of the circumstances of marginalized people.

Slang by its very nature is constantly evolving and, while admitting it was inevitable, some activists lament the evolution. In becoming mainstream, they note, “stay woke”  has lost its power. The phrase is now used to express other things. For example, one person who paid Uber surge prices because it was “cheaper than a DUI” tweeted that “people need to ‘stay woke’ to that fact.” Others have used the phrase to describe an activity common at a semester’s end on college campuses. With final papers and exams due, “pulling an all nighter” for some is to “stay woke.”

I acknowledge the lyrical and vocal virtuosity of Ms. Badu. I am more than happy to give her credit for the succinct, powerful utterance “stay woke” that gave voice to a movement. While her phrasing may be original, the call to all persons to be fully aware of the needs and sufferings of the least, the last, and the lost echoes across the ages. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus spoke in clear and certain terms that the reorientation we now consign to the season of Advent – purposeful, constant awareness – should be our orientation every day. The Apostle Paul brought that same word to Rome, the center of world power in that day. He wrote of the urgency of the imperative – “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep.”

While Advent is our season of waiting and anticipation, we are not being called to sit on our hands. Quite the contrary. We are called to be actively advocating and vigorously vigilant. The time-honored Advent disciplines of prayer, love feasts, scripture reading, and frequent worship are important. Just as important is educating ourselves about and acting to mitigate suffering in our midst. Methodist Home for Children invites you to become fully engaged with us this Advent and beyond. We work hard day in and day out to address individual and systemic causes of neglect, abuse, addiction, and low educational achievement. We believe the time is NOW to make a difference in service to God. Won’t you work while you wait?

Read Week 3: The awkward guest