A season of waiting
Advent 3 2019
December 15, 2019
The Rev. Deacon Lisa Kirby
“Wait for the Lord”
How many times have you asked, or been asked the following question in the last week or so? Are ya ready for Christmas? What exactly does that mean? I expect that most people think in terms of whether the Christmas cards have been, mailed, presents bought and shipped or just wrapped.
In Advent, I suggest that we have a different type of work to be done than what people are asking us about.
As frequently happens in the church year, we have a couple of seemingly different things going on today. It is Gaudete Sunday, Rose Sunday. Gaudete means “rejoice” and we, in this contemplative season of Advent, take this time to rejoice in what is coming.
On the other hand, our lessons also talk about patience and not knowing. How do we reconcile rejoicing, patience and not knowing?
The not knowing: John doesn’t know for sure that Jesus is the one although he gets a cryptic message from Jesus indicating that this is probably the case. Mary was as prepared as she could be, but I doubt she fully knew what her life and the life of her child were going to be. She would have to wait and see.
James talks about waiting patiently. Know many kids who are waiting patiently these days? How is our patience in this hectic distracted time, in an already topsy-turvy world. We are called to the work of waiting patiently for the Lord, in uncertain times.
James talks about a patience given by the Holy Spirit. This is a season of waiting and expectation, a time of uncertainty, but our focus these days must always be on the one for whom we wait. And in the turmoil of life can we wait patiently for the Spirit of the Lord, to make all things new. We sing: Wait for the Lord his day is near, wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.
Madeline L’Engle points out “God doesn’t stop the bad things from happening; that’s never been part of the promise. The promise is: I am with you. I am with you now until the end of time.”
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Joy and gladness for all who seek the Lord.
Advent is a time for hope and hopeful transformation. We are imagining a new age—an age of Shalom despite the realities of war and polarization. We must believe that God is at work in all things, restoring the broken, healing the sick and welcoming the outcast.
Our job is to be hopeful and patient in the not always knowing.
The dream of Shalom seems impossible but we must live in hope and know that it will happen in God’s time. This is a time of embracing God’s Now and the hopeful anticipation of God’s not yet.
Mary accepts fully the mystery of God’s presence in her life without having to have all the facts. Could she possibly imagine how it all was going to end? But she says: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
And I cannot bring peace/Shalom if I have none. As we await the Prince of Peace, we are all innkeepers who must decide if we can make room for the Christ Child.
In order to make room, I must clear away the chaos that is around me, look inward, see what in me needs to be cleaned out to make room in the Inn. I have compared this process, in past sermons, to cleaning up a nursery to prepare for a new baby. Clearing out the cobwebs of resentment, washing the windows of the doubt and fear in our hearts to allow the sun light of the spirit to enter.
As we engage in quiet rejoicing and patient expectation the rest of the world is running crazy getting ready for what I’d call “Consumermas”, the real war on Christmas, and a perceived war of Christmas. We shouldn’t say “Happy Holidays” even though holiday means “holy day”. We should only say “Merry Christmas”, but which Christmas are they talking about?
We are encouraged to keep Christ in Christmas? Then, as it is said “Feed the Hungry, comfort the afflicted, love the outcast, forgive the wrongdoers, inspire the hopeless.” As we wait patiently, expectantly striving to live in the not totally knowing, may we rejoice in the promise that all things will one day be made new.
Here during the season of preparation, think peace, make peace, be at peace and as we make way for the season of the Lord. Live in hope, be patient, rejoice and be glad.