What if we were in a real time of waiting, just like those who came before us?
This Advent season I challenged the congregation I serve to try to engage their imaginations and be surprised by Christmas. Advent is a season of waiting and preparation for the coming of the King. The people of God waited for the Messiah to arrive for 576 years. We know he has come and so we look back on that time of waiting.
But, what if we didn’t have to engage our imaginations? What if, we are in another time of waiting and preparation? What if, we have been waiting even longer for Advent to come to an end than our ancestors?
We who are on the other side of the resurrection know that Christ has come, that he has lived, that he has died, and that he has risen. We know that he sits at the right of the Father.
Yet, we still wait.
We wait for his second coming, the ultimate coming of the Christ when he finally makes all things right and makes all things new. When he wipes away every tear, when faith becomes sight.
The first century followers of Jesus were waiting with baited breath for his return. So much so, that some of the early leaders in the Church had to remind them to go to work and care for their families, because God does not work on our schedule.
Still, here we are two thousand years later and we wait.
Two thousand years later and the Christ has not returned. We continue on seeking to be the body of Christ wherever we are.
Two thousand years later we are still working out what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Two thousand years later we are in Advent.
The difference between then and now is that there was a resurrection. The difference between then and now is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
But, just like then, we wait.
Check out what Jude (yes, I know you’re humming Hey Jude! now, get out of your system, you good? OK,):
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. — Jude 20–21
We build one another in our faith. We pray in the Holy Spirit. We keep ourselves in God’s love.
AND WE WAIT.
How are you waiting? Who are you building up? Are you praying? How are you loving well?
To wait with patient expectancy is an active waiting. It is not passive.
I think as we seek to live this way we experience something deep within ourselves. We will experience joy.
My hunch is this, if you are not a joyful person then you are not building others up, you are not praying, and you are not seeking to love well. If we engage in these activities then we can’t help but be joyful.