On the first Sunday of Advent I talked about getting READY for Jesus' return—RISING from our slumber, EXPECTANT, AWAKE, DISCIPLINING ourselves, YES, you and me. Last Sunday I talked about getting SET for Jesus' return—making a START, listening for God's SPECIFIC call on my life and yours, EYES and EARS open, prepared to endure any TROUBLE we might face.
READY, SET, the usual next step is GO! But I'm not going to say that yet. We're going to do an Advent thing. Instead of GO, this morning it's WAIT for it! In this morning's Collect we prayed: God of power and mercy, you call us once again to celebrate the coming of your Son. Remove those things which hinder love of you, that when he comes, he may find us waiting in awe and wonder for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Waiting in awe and wonder. Waiting. Advent is also about taking some time to intentionally WAIT for what is to come—to resist our constant drive to instant gratification. Resist all he pressures and expectations which, if we allow them, will wind us up and spit us out at Christmas, emotional, physical and spiritual batteries definitely not included—exhausted rather than energized.
Dean Gray, one of our 830 crew, quoted Jan L. Richardson, author of The Painted Prayer Book, in a Facebook post a couple of days ago:
This season of advent means there is something on the horizon, the likes of which we have never seen before.WAIT. Jesus is here. WAIT. Can you see Him? Can you hear Him? Can you feel him? WAIT. Don't let the buzz of busyness bustle you away. Jesus is coming again. If we don't WAIT it's harder to WATCH for the signs. Good, READY-SET Advent WAITing requires patience— wait and be patient writes James four times in the four verses of our epistle this morning (Ja 5.7-10). Good, READY-SET Advent WAITing makes the wilderness and dry land in our souls and lives glad, it makes our spiritual deserts rejoice and blossom like the crocus (Is 35.1). WAIT and my weak hands and feeble knees (Is 35.3) will be strengthened. So will yours. WAITing prepares the way before Jesus into your hearts, my heart and, through us, into the lives of our families and friends (Mt 11.10), and His way is a Way of Holiness (Is 35.8)—clean and good. WAIT because Jesus will come and save you (Is 35.4). That's "W."
So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder.
There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
"A" is for answered questions (Mt 11.4). Jesus answered John's questions, faithful Advent WAITING provides quiet listening time in which we are more likely to hear any answers to our questions. WAITing gives you a chance to hear Jesus' words to your heart when you are anxious. "Be strong, fear not," he says, "I have come to save you. I will come to save you." (Is 35.4) You shall not go astray (Is 35.8). The desert in your lives "shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing." (Is 35.4)
"W," "A," and now "I."
"I" is for "the coming of The LORD is at hand!" (Ja 5.8) Jesus is coming again.
And "I" is also for "Truly I tell you!" (Mt 11.4)—the words of the great "I am," (Jn 8.58). Jesus Himself speaking. Jesus Christ, The One worth WAITing for.
Which brings us to "T." In answer to John's question, Jesus said to John's disciples, "Go and tell John what you hear and see." (Mt 11.4) To whom is Jesus telling us to go?
Advent WAITing is to prepare us to go and tell what we've heard and seen of Jesus. Go tell it on the mountain and everywhere, the song says. Tell what, when the time comes? Advent WAITing helps us get our story straight and true—Jesus Christ is with us, Jesus is coming again.
READY, SET—WAIT—for Jesus.