We begin a new liturgical year today – a new church year brings with it a time of hope and possibilities… As our lessons remind us, God’s time is a gift. God’s time for us here passes ever so quickly for many of us… The reality is, it does… except if we’re the ones left waiting…
…for a doctor to call with test results – or talk to a family about treatment plans. Except if we’re the ones studying for exams or waiting for acceptance letters…or a phone call about a new job. Or if we’re sleep deprived new parents or wrestling with toddlers… Those days are long – but the years, fly by.
This season of Advent is a time of new beginnings. It’s a time of preparation as we look ahead to who we are…and the possibilities what we can become as God’s people. Advent is a time to reflect at how we come to live as the Body of Christ, and how we share God’s message. How we live into that hope and expectation.
Let’s face it, for many of us – the busyness of life can be a distraction – often causing us to look far ahead toward the end…the goal – whatever that means for us. Far too often, we often miss the immediacy of the need of the here and now that exists today. We miss Christ already present in our lives. We waste time on things that we have little control of. Advent reminds us of God’s constant presence with signs of preparation; with waiting and commitment to be the people that God needs us to be, in the brokenness that surrounds us.
Take a look at our readings this morning. They don’t start at the beginning. Instead we find ourselves in the midst of hurt and pain in our lesson from Isaiah. But within this weary place, we find a community of hope. God has hidden himself and the life has gone out of the people. But rather than continue to be disobedient to God, the people find a way to recognize their own failings, their own sinfulness – only to realize that God is not one to hold grudges, but instead God loves and forgives them. And, there’s their hope.
In Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, he speaks of a church that is in the midst of ‘becoming’. A church much like the church today, that’s ever evolving. A church seeking to find new ways to proclaim God’s Word and to do God’s work in the world. Paul speaks to the people, giving them assurance and confidence. And with those gifts, they are enriched and strengthened as hope-filled people of faith.
Mark’s Gospel speaks of an expectant church…waiting, yearning for Jesus’ imminent return. After all, we’re told that we don’t know when it will come, but to be ready… God’s grace is present with us offering the church and the world new beginnings….and we live in a world that desperately needs this gift of hope and promise.
Several years ago during one of my visits to Broadway House, I sat in the hallway with one of the residents. It was a quiet, Saturday morning. He’d been there, waiting – as he did every weekend – for family to come visit. Truth is, they were never going to come. Despite knowing that, he still had hope. Hope that they’d find time to forgive him for getting sick, for having AIDS, and to make the bus ride from the other side of Newark to see him…just once.
There is the constant message in our lessons this morning that God is molding and shaping us. Surprising us, every day of our lives. In every one of the crises you bring here today. With every doubt, in every fear and struggle to be faithful, there’s the promise of God’s commitment. There’s the promise that God can and will change us, and our world. Often in the most unexpected ways.
Advent is a time when we wait, and we live expectantly with resurrection hope and with hearts open and ready. There’s the reminder that in Advent every day as we wait, we are provided with opportunities to be humbled by God’s love, and even more to be committed by his sacrifice.
Midst it all, we watch, we wait…with the reminder that Christ lives in us and continues the journey with us – while we wait for Jesus him to come again. Amen.