Luke 22:39-46: And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14).
I have this vivid memory of one particular class at seminary: it was my Old Testament Hebrew class, it was Friday afternoon, in summer heat of 100 degrees, with no air-conditioning, and sounds of the lawnmower, and the other students getting into their cars to drive home for the weekend…. And the professor’s voice gradually fading into the background ….and out of nowhere the words “Why are you sleeping”.
It was not like I planned to fall asleep. I did not come in saying “This is my sleeping class”…… It was just that the warm afternoon, and the end of a long week, and the soothing sounds of his voice – seemed to have an effect on me!
“Why are you sleeping?” still rings in my ears all these years later –
These were the words of Jesus to his disciples
There was a crisis at hand – Jesus was about to arrested, and they were sleeping.
They did not plan to fall asleep…
But they slept while the crisis evolved around them: the plans had been made, the arresting party put together, the torches of those coming to arrent Jesus were visible…and Jesus finds his disciples asleep. And so Jesus words:
“Why are you sleeping”
This becomes the kind of question that rings throughout history –
There are many moments that people have seemed to be asleep when they should have been awake…..
Politically I think of the people of Rome being entertained in the circus while the emperor and the senators skimmed the top off the taxes for their personal wealth and so the citizens of Rome are asleep to the crumbling of the Roman Empire,
or in our time the people who watch football, basketball, baseball – in fact anything to distract us from the nasty civil discourse that is breaking this nation in half.
“Why are you sleeping”
Spiritually I think of how we sleep our way through the illnesses of our culture that sees the abuse little children, and violence to women and the use of alcohol and substances that numb the mind.
And so the crucial question: “Why are you sleeping?”
It seems to be a human condition that we fall asleep. This is pointed out by St. Paul in a letter to the Jesus-followers in Ephesus: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14). This letter points out that it is possible for followers of Jesus to fall asleep – to become spiritual sleepwalkers. This is a life where we go through the motions of life without the alert spiritual awareness of people who are in a relationship with God.
Let us hear the voice of our Heavenly Father saying to us – it is time for you to wake up:
discover your joy for life / live your live as if today matters.
Let us refuse to live on autopilot…Wake Up.
So How do we wake up?
Let me begin at the other end: we fall asleep when we lose our curiosity about life / when we become complacent / when we think that we have nothing more to learn.
I recall visiting a care centre for the elderly, and a nurse telling me of a new patient they had admitted. She told me that she gave him 6 months to live. I was astounded – because he looked healthy. When I asked her why she said that she answered – “He gets us each morning and switches on the television. And he sits in his chair in front of it until bedtime. He does nothing else with his day.” And I was at his funeral 6 months later: he literally fell asleep in his chair and never woke up.
The only way to stay awake is to Cultivate Curiosity – be open to looking for signs of God at work in our lives. Let us not think that we know all that we need to know: God has so much more in store for us!
I want suggest two simple things:
Charles Wesley, a founder member of the Methodist movement, challenges us with these words: “it is high time for us to awake out of sleep before the 'great trumpet of the Lord be blown”. 
O God of all Creation,
you call us to trust you in every circumstance of our lives,
yet we try in vain to control our lives.
And so like sleepwalkers we wander away from you, absorbed by our own wants and desires, blind to all you have planned for us.
We no longer expect you to show up in our lives
We forget to serve you,
And we close our eyes to those around us who need love and care.
Forgive us, O God..
Turn our hearts to you,
Surprise us with your love that we may taste fullness of life.
Keep us curious and open to the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Pursue righteousness, godliness,
faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Live curiously, trusting God with everything you are
and everything you have.
Take hold of the life to which God calls you.
Go forth, rejoicing in God.
 Taken from the Sermon “Awake, Thou that Sleepest.”
What do people say about me?
Jesus and his disciples are visiting Caesarea Philippi. This city was made up of a mixed population of Greeks, Romans and Jews. It lay at the foot of Mount Hermon, and had a giant spring that gushed from a cave and tumbled down the valley. The Greeks originally called this town Paneas: and believed that Pan, the Greek God of deserts, lived in the cave. The Romans renamed the city to honor Caesar Augustus and would offer annual prayers in the name of Caesar. And the Jews preached against this this idolatry and prayed for a messiah to liberate them from Roman rule. This was a city that was consumed with gossip – as the various groups of people watched each other and plotted their own futures free of each other.