In pm's words
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December 2, 2019, 8:00 AM

the one about waiting...


Sermon from December 1, 2019

Text: Matthew 24: 36-44

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ, will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, we made it to another year. As I mentioned to our young friends last week during the Children’s sermon, this is an opportunity to reflect on what we have learned and experienced; while at the same time, looking forward to what we will get to see and be a part of.

As a reminder, as we reflect, we get to remember that God loves us, Jesus is with us, and that the Holy Spirit is guiding and forming us. As we look with hope towards this new year, we look forward to seeing how God loves us, where Jesus is with us, and how the Holy Spirit will guide and form us. Each Sunday – each week – each time we gather for worship – we will embark on that journey together. We will together walk through these readings and see how those hopeful promises are to be lived out in our lives and through our hands and feet.

That’s what we get to do as we begin this new season of the church year.

And, as we begin this renewed journey we do so in a familiar, if not odd spot. A place that we don’t usually feel very comfortable with as we begin this hopeful journey towards our God’s in-breaking into creation. We begin this renewed journey towards the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry; as it is written in the Gospel of Matthew. We begin our hope-filled time of waiting for the true light of God being birthed into the world as we read those texts that lead to the snuffing of that light (if ever briefly) from the world.

As I’ve mentioned before, we as a people of faith celebrate this time of year rather differently from those on the ‘outside.’ Where it seems the entire world is already bursting with joy (which isn’t a bad thing) about Christ’s birth already. We, on the other hand, take a more measured approach. As we read the texts handed down to us through the generations of faithful before us, we hear Jesus tell his disciples and in turn tell us – wait.

Keep awake. Be prepared.

I remember growing up and also from having children now, the ability to wait during this time of year is rather difficult. We are excited for what is to come. We are anxious for the celebration to arrive. We, at times, cannot wait for it to already be here.

And what is it that we are waiting for? You might hear (or read on the numerous signs down the interstate) that what we are ‘waiting for’ is God’s judgment. Where the predominate message of that though is, ‘you better shape up, or you’re going to be left behind.’ And, it would appear – at a limited and first glance – that our readings these past few weeks line up with that thought.

We’ve heard our Lord talk a bit about signs, dangers, and unsettledness to come. It was just a few weeks ago that we read and heard from Jesus’ lips that the mere act of following him – of bearing witness to God’s truth to the world – would rend and tear apart families and friendships. It didn’t look good. It still doesn’t sound good.

This morning too, we hear a similar message from Jesus. He shares with those around him a parable about two men in the field – where one is taken, and one is left behind. Or the thief who comes in the night to take advantage of those who are not prepared.

His words carry weight as he talks about the future. A time when the Son of Man is to come – where no knows when it’ll be.

So, what are we to do?

As we enter into this new season of the church year, we wait for the Advent. We wait for the arrival of the coming of Christ our Lord. We wait.

As we wait, we grow frustrated. Time passes. Things happen. We become restless.

It reminds me a bit of when Erin and I were bringing the girls home from the mountains this past weekend. As we got closer and closer to Newberry, the cries of, “Are we there yet?” grew ever more pronounced and louder.

We aren’t there yet, but we’re close. Just be patient.

But, there’s this thing about being told to be ‘patient.’ It isn’t a lot of fun. No fun at all. The seconds bleed into minutes. The minutes turn into hours. And the hours seem like days. When you’re told to be patient, sometimes it is as if time stands still. And when that impatience grows stronger, the more we want to know when we’ll get there.

But, here’s the thing, being told to ‘wait’ for the Advent of Jesus is not like the raised voices lobbed to those in the backseat out of frustration or like telling a dog to ‘stay’ as you walk to the other side of the yard. Where that faithful canine sits with every muscle strained awaiting the command of ‘come’ to bound to their person that has wandered off. When a dog is told to ‘stay’ or ‘wait here’ they are being told to ‘not move.’ Concentrate fully on the act of waiting. Don’t let anything else bother you. Do not become distracted and break the ‘command’ given to you.

That is not what we are told as we wait during the season of Advent, nor in our waiting for THE Advent of Christ’s second arrival within creation.

We wait, however, in active hope. We wait with being prepared. We wait, but we don’t just sit around doing nothing.

In the few verses we hear this morning I believe that action of waiting takes on a slightly different meaning. It isn’t so much that we ‘stand guard’ and ‘watch vigilantly’ only straining our eyes into the distance. While also making sure that others around us do as we do.

That isn’t what Jesus means.

Perhaps, as our Lord calls us to ‘stay alert’ and ‘be prepared,’ that action requires and expects more than us just standing around and shouting that ‘The end is coming!’ In fact, I’d hazard a guess that it doesn’t mean that at all, but instead it means living into the faithful witness that Jesus calls us into.

Living into that life where others and all are loved and cared for. Bearing witness to the grace and radical welcome of inviting those different than us into our lives. Seeking to hear others so that our own voice, our own life, our own community can be that much more full and complete.

As we have entered into this season of Advent; we have heard message after message from Jesus that is of warning. Where those messages at times can be seen as full of gloom and doom. Yet, within that message we don’t get the ‘full’ story. In fact, the only thing we know for certain is that we won’t know when that time – this coming Advent – will arrive.

In the knowledge of ‘not knowing’ we are to be prepared, to stay alert, and to watch.

In that time of waiting, we are called to act. We are called to be witnesses to those around us – witnesses that live out and bear the truth of God’s love, presence, and guidance.

Caring for one another. Sharing our stories. Listening to those around us. Advocating for those being taken advantage of. Serving those in need.

Yet, as we wait in active hope, we don’t do so alone. We gather together in God’s love, as we strive for, struggle with, and live into the life of faith that our Lord has called us to be a part of.

We get to model for one another, we get to learn from each other, we get to see God at work in those we know and love, and in those we barely know. We get to be with one another – together – as we wait for the Advent of Christ.

We don’t know when that second coming will be – you could say that even Jesus didn’t know – only the father knows.

But, we are invited – as the church – into this process. We are invited to be a part of the transformation of the world in knowing that Christ’s Advent is at hand. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask that God’s reign come, that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus gives us the opportunity to partner with God in answering that prayer. We get to do that with one another. We get to do that renewed this day as we enter into a new season of Advent. We get to do that today as we journey with new folks here in our little, yet thriving corner of Christendom.

We get to wait – but, we get to wait in active hope, and we get to do it with one another and with those around us.

We wait in expectant hope for Christ’s Advent. We wait, but we wait living into and living out the call of life and faith that Jesus has invited us to be a part of. It is a gift. Let’s have fun with it.

Why? Because God is on the way. Because God – Emmanuel – is with us already. Amen.


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