Mark 13:24-end Isaiah 64:1-9
The lighting of the first candle of the Advent wreath is accompanied by a special prayer:
God of Abraham and Sarah, and all the patriarchs of old, you are our Father too.
Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of David.
Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth, to make our hearts ready for your Holy Spirit to make his home among us. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the light who is coming into the world. Amen.
What are you waiting for? The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. The Advent that we are looking for in December is primarily the first coming of Jesus as a baby, born in a stable. But as we look back, we are also reminded of his second coming, as King, in all his glory.
So, what are we waiting for, now, at the present time, in our present day situation? Sometimes it feels to me that most of December gets caught up in a busyness that hasn’t got anything to do with Christ. Or, rather, it doesn’t seem to be about the precious gift of God’s Son, but more about the trimmings of the festival: the tinsel and the turkey. A well-known Advent hymn is ‘Come, thou long-expected Jesus’. This year, it may be that for most it’ll be an unexpected Christmas, a Christmas that’s more subdued, even, in terms of shopping and inviting family and friends, and church services. In a sense, the unexpectedness of this year’s Christmas could be more in line with the Biblical version. After all, when Jesus arrived into the world, he was not expected as he was, and when he set out on his mission, he overturned and surpassed most people’s expectations as to what he would do and be. The Pharisees saw Jesus’ mission as subversive and did their best to get rid of him. The poor, the blind and the lame, on the other hand, saw Jesus as their only hope. Those he met were always changed and challenged – many were transformed unexpectedly by the experience. And yet, as people and as a nation we seem to have succumbed to despair and fear of the unexpected, often thinking that it’s better not to expect anything, so as not to be disappointed. How sad! How contrary to God’s word of hope for us, in Jesus. For he is the living Word, sent to set us free in every respect, and to change our lives from darkness to light, as different as day is from night.
So, what are you waiting for? Jesus says: ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.’ Quoting from some of the prophets. And he continues to describe the arrival of the Son of Man ‘in clouds, with great power and glory.’ These words are a great encouragement, I think, for all of us in the present time, telling us that there is hope. Not just hope for the short term, for some sort of acceptable Christmas, or even more of a ‘normal’ life in the New Year, but hope for a radiant future that helps humanity to flourish as God has intended: with grace, and peace, with love and joy.
What are you waiting for? For that day to arrive? For when all our troubles are over? For an easier life ‘some day’? Why not rather live now, in hope and trust – knowing that Jesus is both here and will come again. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit in the meantime, to help us cope. So why not put our trust in God now? Let us seek to serve without failing, while it is still daytime. It was Martin Luther King, who said: ‘If Christ should come tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today.’
So, what are you waiting for?
Let us pray:
With love and compassion, come, Lord Jesus.
With judgement and mercy, come, Lord Jesus.
In power and glory, come, Lord Jesus.
In wisdom and truth, come, Lord Jesus.