First Sunday in Advent: Waiting and Hoping

"You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part"
- "The Waiting" by Tom Petty

I'm fairly certain I've written about waiting before. Probably several times. Waiting is hard. Sometimes it can be really hard. We've been in the midst of waiting for over two and half years for my wife to be able to find a job in her field. There haven't been many openings. She's discouraged. It's been frustrating. We have strong moments of questioning God, of being angry with Him, of doubting. The waiting can really suck.

Sometimes the amount of time God has people in the Bible wait for things is qu
ite discouraging. The Israelites waited forty years to enter the Promised Land. Joseph waited in prison for over two years for Pharaoh's cup bearer to remember him (plus his time before that). Sarah and Hannah waited decades to have a child. Israel waited 400 years after the prophecies of Malachi for the Christ to be born. Now were in the midst of waiting nearly 2000 years for the Christ to return. They're not hopeful precedents.

But today we begin the season of Advent (if you're one to follow the liturgical calendar, may I
wish you a happy New Year!). Advent is a time of waiting. And, as we lit the advent candle today, we were reminded to wait with hope.

Today's gospel reading ends with: "So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come" (Matthew 24:44). Our waiting is not to be passive. We are to be prepared. We are to be watchful.

My friend Tonya reminded me during the sermon tonight that waiting for the future when Christ returns involves watching for where His Kingdom is showing in the present. Therein lies the hope, I believe. When we slow down and watch where God is working, we can see His Kingdom active around us. We can take hold of the promise that His Kingdom will come in full. We can be hopeful that this fallen world will one day be restored. We take hope that Christ's promise to return will find fulfillment.

As we wait hopefully, I close with the hymn from tonight's Divine Hours:

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, thou long expected Jesus, Born to set your people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art: Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born your people to deliver, Born a child, and yet a king, Born to reign in us for ever, Now your gracious kingdom bring. By your own eternal spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By your all sufficient merit Raise us to your glorious throne.
Charles Wesley


Maria said...

Waiting can be discouraging and patience is hard to come by at times. Thanks for posting this. It reminds me that God is continually shaping our lives and preparing our future...even when we sit in the present and wait.


Rev. Dave said...

Thanks, Maria.

Sometimes I almost regret asking God for patience (especially with my kids) when I pray. But for Him to shape us, it will probably be painful or at least uncomfortable at times.