This morning my wife and I decided to have some fun and sleep downstairs on our pull-out couch in order to wake up early and watch the pre-game glamour of William and Catherine’s Royal Wedding. We weren’t total sellouts, I mean, who could get up at 4am to start watching? We slept in a little bit longer and woke up at 5am instead (I can just hear you laughing at us right now). The Royal Wedding, I decided, could be likened to Britain's version of Superbowl Sunday for us. Just like an American to say a thing like that huh? Shows you how distinguished I am. However, the Royal Wedding is much, much bigger than any Superbowl Sunday (unless the Chicago Bears are in it) and much more special for the “royal” country. This morning, (April 29th) Twitter reported that “Proud to be British” was the leading and most trending comment and topic of the day. Pretty sweet, I think.
There’s a lot one could comment about on after watching that wedding: from the enormous amount of people lined up to watch the royal family go by, the beauty and grandeur of Westminster Abbey, the fashion of hats, how yellow the Queen looked, Kate’s spectacular wedding dress, to how much the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, looked like Gandalf, Tolkien’s fictional character from Lord of the Rings. However, I wasn’t thinking of any of those things. I was thinking about how I, and maybe some of you too, woke up so early to watch this whole thing.
I read on Twitter later that morning a comment that reflected this feeling:
“Christians around the world can somehow get up to watch the #RoyalWedding, but we have no energy to get up to pray and read the Word.”
I take a comment like this with a grain of salt. Maybe the author of this comment did not mean it so lightly, who knows, but, nonetheless, I commented back to this fellow writing, “True that!” I think this comment has some truth to it.
When you read this, we’ll still be in Easter celebration mode (as affirmed by our liturgical calendar) and I’m reminded of the Good Friday prayer vigil we had at St. John’s. Before I went in to my late-night/early-morning time slot, I was already tired. As a matter of fact, I had fallen asleep on the coach beforehand while waiting for the time to leave the house. I thought my time was going to be rough sitting and praying quietly in a still and dimly lit sanctuary. But, to my pleasant surprise, I was amazed at how energizing that quiet hour was.
At this point you may be asking where is this going, or how does the Royal Wedding tie in with prayer vigils?
Scripture encourages us to “Awake, O sleeper” (Eph. 5:14b). The prayer vigil itself has roots in the garden of Gethsemene, where Jesus prayed with his disciples before he was handed over to Pilate (Mt. 26:36-46). To his sleepy friends Jesus says, “Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:40b-41).
I know it can be hard to wake up early in the morning and remove ourselves from the cozy pocket of warm air that hugs our bodies so nicely under the blankets, but may we all be encouraged to arise from our slumber and pray. Awake with as much excitement to spend time with our Lord than the one who awoke in anticipation to see what the Royal Wedding dress was going to look like. And in doing so, may you find it invigorating and energizing to your very bodies and souls. Amen!