Advent 1, 2011

We’ve been waiting a long time – even in Isaiah’s time, God’s people waited, and prayed,

and wondered what God’s promises would bring them.

Their waiting was full of difficulty. Their troubles are well documented –

our Scriptures record the frustration, the fear, and the eager hope of those who waited.

But Scripture also reminds us of something else.

The waiting is not ours alone.

The prophets all eventually recognize that God is waiting too.

Waiting for us – for all God’s people – to admit our need – to turn from our selfishness and return to our God.

Consider, we are all your people” Isaiah says, but does God really need to be reminded?

No, I think this is a reminder for us.

Our habits throughout history

have been to turn our mistakes into God’s anger;

our impatience into God’s absence;

our failure to find grace, into God’s failure to offer grace;

and these habits go against everything we say we believe

about the power, presence and persistence of God.

The stories that we will share in this advent season

will remind us of how God really is.

Always reaching out – always offering hope – always loving,

and always waiting for God’s people to take God’s invitation seriously.

You see, every time God makes a promise (in Scripture),

it is an invitation to accept that God has the power to keep a promise;

a promise to guide a people home;

a promise to hold back God’s destructive wrath;

a promise to unite God’s people under God’s chosen king.

Scripture records, in various ways, that God has been faithful even when we have not,

and still we play the part of those who wait for redemption –

we act as people waiting for God’s great breakthrough,

Mark’s gospel is sometimes heard

as a call to wait on some future bit of fantastic activity from God;

the “second coming” long awaited – Christ on the clouds, come to rescue us from ourselves.

But given God’s record of faithfulness (in all things),

and our record of forgetfulness where the things of God are concerned,

I wonder if this call to wakefulness –

this reminder of the suddenness of God’s activity –

might be an invitation to open our eyes

to really see what is already there, waiting for us;

the grace of God –

Forgiveness and mercy,

peace, hope, love and life,

at our very fingertips.

Every Advent we mark a period of waiting.

We delay our Christmas celebrations with these reminders of God’s certain presence,

and the consequences of our ignorance of that presence,

and we vow to look differently at the world to which Christ came – the world for which Christ was raised.

This year, let us recognize who waits for us.

God in Christ – grace made flesh –

the kingdom of glory waits for us.

God help us to open our tired eyes as see, with real joy,

that those long awaited promises have always been there, within out reach.

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