First Sunday of Advent 2022

Rip Van Winkle, a Dutch American man with a habit of avoiding useful work, lives in a village at the foot of New York’s Catskill mountains in the years before the American Revolution. One autumn day, he goes squirrel hunting in the mountains with his dog Wolf to escape his wife’s nagging. As evening falls, he hears a voice calling his name and finds a man dressed in antiquated Dutch clothing and carrying a keg. Rip helps the man carry his burden to a cleft in the rocks from which thunderous noises are emanating; the source proves to be a group of ornately dressed and bearded men playing nine-pin bowling. Not asking who these men are or how they know his name, Rip joins them in drinking from the keg he has helped carry and soon becomes so intoxicated that he falls asleep. Rip awakens on a sunny morning, at the spot where he first saw the keg-carrier, and finds that many drastic changes have occurred; his beard is a foot long and has turned grey, his musket is badly deteriorated, and Wolf is nowhere to be found. Returning to his village, he discovers it to be larger than he remembers and filled with people in unfamiliar clothing, none of whom recognize him. He is unaware that the American Revolution has taken place in his absence. He learns that many of his old friends were either killed in the war or have left the village, and is disturbed to find a young man who shares his name, mannerisms, and younger appearance. A young woman states that her father is Rip Van Winkle, who has been missing for 20 years, and an old woman recognizes him as Rip. The young woman and the young Rip are his children, and the former has named her infant son after him as well. Rip discovers that his wife has been dead for some time, but is not saddened by the news. His daughter takes him into her home, and he soon resumes his usual idleness and begins telling his story to every stranger who visits the village. It is very unlikely that we will fall asleep for 20 years, but there is another kind of sleep,  when we do not realise what is happening,  when we get carried away by what is unimportant,  this can happen to us all of us at some time.  Someone said that the most dangerous day of our lives comes when we learn the word tomorrow. From that day we begin to put things off. On that day we begin to act as if we have plenty of time to do whatever we wish.  In the gospel this weekend , the first Sunday of advent,  Jesus asks us to be awake,  to be vigilant, to be prepared,  to be aware of the wonderful gift of time,  the opportunity we have to do good.  These opportunities may never some again in our lives.  At the same time Jesus wants us to be positive,  with his help we can recover the time and the opportunities that we have lost;  All we have to do is do our very best,  now, today and always,  and then we will not have to wake us someday like Rip Van Winkle, to realise that we have slept through a great part of our lives. Let us conclude with a brief prayer: Lord Jesus, you have not revealed to us when you will come. We only know that you will come. When you do come, may you find our houses swept and clean, and ready for your arrival. May you find us watching and praying ready to receive you.