We are not used to waiting these days! The incessant pace and demand of life, especially through electronic media makes us increasingly impatient and intolerant of having to wait. I am not happy if my computer screen does not instantly spring into life on demand! Advent is about watching and waiting for the coming of God to complete his work but doing so in activity and hope.
On this ADVENT SUNDAY we who are Christian disciples are reminded by our scriptures that, though the world seems bleak and broken at times, God is going to complete the job he started in Bethlehem on that first Christmas and continued in Jesus’ loving death and mighty resurrection at Easter.
Advent is about the sure and certain hope that God will finish what he has started, that justice and right will triumph in the end and that he wants us to be part of bringing that future about.
What are your hopes and dreams at present - for yourself, your family, your church, for after death? Our lives are full of hopes: worldly, natural hopes, important and trivial. People in some other parts of the world hope for no more war, that there will be food and clean water tomorrow, that they simply get safely to the end of the day. I asked that question to 3 teenagers a few years ago.
One wanted to marry and have a family; another wanted to be a doctor; a third hoped to be a beautician. But there was one thing all 3 hoped for: to be free to leave and have a chance fulfil those hopes and dreams. But at present that is impossible for they all live on the Gaza strip on the Mediterranean coast, locked in by barbed wire and an electric fence. Yet they still hope and dream! Maybe you to feel too trapped, maybe you can’t be bothered to hope, or worse – maybe all your hope is gone it has been pressed out of you by a hard life.
Advent Sunday calls us back to our hopes and dreams in Christ. In v.33 of Mark 13: 24-end in the context of a parable where a master has left his servants in charge while he is away for a long undefined journey, Jesus says. “Beware, keep alert; you do not know when the time will come (for the master to return).” And in v.37. “What I say to you, I say to all: keep awake!" Are we complacent in our spiritual waiting, or active in pushing forward the boundaries of the Kingdom of God as his disciples?
So here we are on Advent Sunday 2021 called to renew our hope in the God who still comes to us now, every minute, every moment, calling us to watch and wait and join in with his work in the world. Waiting in Advent hope is not about inertia and leaving it all to God. The famous evangelist David Watson once said that God the Holy Spirit works more often in our activity than our inactivity.
On 30th November it is St Andrew’s Day, the day on which we celebrate that lesser known apostle. Andrew was not one to hang around inactively. He was always bringing people to Jesus: his brother Peter, the boy with the loaves and fishes, the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus…… He didn’t just sit there and wait! He watched, waited and responded to Godly opportunities.
As this season of Advent progresses God says to his church, "you can't just sit there! Now is the time. I am here – do something!” Advent is a wake-up call to the Church to watch and pray, but not to stop there, rather to see what God is doing and join in.
A static Christian is like a stagnant pond, having little value, use or beauty. Stagnant ponds smell: so, in a spiritual sense do stagnant Christians! The message of Advent is to reject stagnation and complacency. Don’t just sit there but join in with God. So, what is God calling you to do between now and Christmas? There is no settling in the Christian life. We are not called to be sleepily religious, but to be faithful and adventurous for and with Jesus. Always remember that God has double vision for you: he sees you as you are and as you can or should be in Jesus.
The challenge of Advent is to live an authentic Christian life: You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day by the deeds that you do, and the things that you say. Others read what you write, be it faithful or true, so, just what is the Gospel, according to you? The Christian is the only person in this universe who has the absolute right to be a total and eternal optimist. There is no such thing as a hopeless Christian. It is a contradiction in terms. The Russian writer Dostoevsky, who knew enough about worldly hopelessness wrote this: “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope!”
What are you waiting for?
Waiting on the World – Malcolm Guite
Peter Hill Sermons
Good Advent – Sarah Mullaly
Longing, Waiting, Believing – Rodney Holder
Pauses for Advent – Hudson Trevor
Advent and Christmas Wisdom – Henri J. M. Nouwen
The Meaning is in the Waiting – Dr Paula Gooder