Advent 2 Year B 2020
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
He brings God’s rule, O Zion; he comes from heaven above.
His rule is peace and freedom, and justice, truth, and love.
Lift high your praise resounding, for grace and joy abounding.
Oh blest is Christ that came in God’s most holy name. Hymn 65 v2
Our hymn text tells of God’s rule coming…. What it will bring but leaves out the when will it be HERE already.
We are to wait for that coming….
How do you wait?
I will confess, I am often impatient, and at times I don’t wait well.
This past week, I walked into the post office at.. lunchtime… and stood in line. It was a long line. The line did not move at all for two minutes. I realized this was going to be more of a time consumption that I was prepared for and I turned on my heel and left.
A great example of how unprepared I was to wait, patiently…..
My mother, on the other hand, gave all of us a great example of how to wait.
With four children who did sports and afterschool curriculars. She, through endless practices, games, meets, rehearsals and doctor’s appts, always pulled out her cross-stitching and started to the use that time that she had to wait, to actively wait. She used the time she had to be creative and complete Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, using the waiting time preparing for what was to come.
The season of Advent is about waiting and preparing.
I emphasize the “AND” in that sentence.
The two are not mutually exclusive. While we wait, we prepare.
In 2020, we find ourselves waiting for a lot of things.
Waiting on the election to finish, we wait for law suits to complete, we are waiting on a vaccine, we wait for exposure and contagious isolation and quarantines to finish.
And if nothing else, these pandemic times have given us time to wait.
And our lesson from second Peter today made me chuckle. “one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day”- isn’t that what our days are feeling like sometimes?
And the words of encouragement that are given next remind us to breathe in deeply and know “the lord is patient with you” while we may lose our patience regularly, the Lord is patient with us, time passes and that patience is renewed each moment along with the call to how them we should be waiting.
How we should be preparing for life as we know it as we wait…..
Second Peter and our Gospel reading continue with why we are to actively wait. Essentially God loves us enough to want us to continually become and grow and belong in the communities that we live in.
To borrow Mary’s words in response to Gabriel, we are to magnify the Lord in all that we do. Our reading also reminds us that change is coming and all through God’s hand.
The gospel writer Mark is more blunt and less poetic in his writing than the writer of our first lesson. In his concise way, Mark begins with the beginning. In the words of Maria in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning when you read you begin with abc”- Mark says when you want to understand the story of Jesus, you need to start back with the words of Isaiah and the story of John the baptist, Jesus’ cousin.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with lineages, tell us who Jesus’ people were, where he came from. Mark wants us to remember the prophets, god’s call to faithful people (and for us) to use their waiting to be real, hopeful, to be transformed with repentance, study, and living in community.
Mark reminds us that the prophets call the people out of comfort to change. And John presents himself in the form of a prophet, wearing the traditional attire of those who sought out the life of prayer and discipline of the Nazareens???? His attire was similar to that of Elijah- wild hair, faithful in prayer, and calling people to prepare by restarting. John says to those gathered, “Repent, be transformed, as you wait for the messiah, use this time to clean house, change your mindset and start fresh. Prepare. Start right now.”
The German Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this, “Advent is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent Season, that is a season of waiting for the last advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.” (From Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons page 27)
While we all have Advent Calendars to color or little doors to open and wreaths with candles to light that help us count down to Christmas Eve, we are not just waiting for Christmas. We, too, wait for the coming of our savior, like those who waited for the messiah to be born and like those who waited for freedom from captivity, we too wait.
And while we wait, we prepare. John’s message to us is to be transformed in our waiting. Active, prepared, waiting. We don’t sit idly by. Rather, the prophets and Jesus’ life and teachings call us to act.
We are to transform ourselves and those around us with actions of love, reconciliation and restoration. We are already in motion, moving towards Christmas and with each Christmas that passes we live more deeply and fully into the kingdom of God.
Henri Nouwen says our waiting should be in this way: “Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. Right here is a secret for us about waiting. If we wait in the conviction that a seed has been planted and that something has already begun, it changes the way we wait. Active waiting implies being fully present to the moment with the conviction that something is happening where we are and that we want to be present to it! A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment is the moment.” (from Finding My Way Home page 368)
While I can be standing still, even being still is active waiting. For in being still you can listen deeply to God’s presence right where you are. See the divine in the other, and seek to be community and right relationship with God.
And so I ask you, how is your waiting going this season?
Where do you need repentance and change in this season, in your heart?
Where can transformation begin as we have been given this time to wait, together on this spiritual journey and as we daily begin again and the Lord is patient with us?
God has given those faithful witnesses who have shown us the way,
how can we too practice active waiting bringing about change, right where we are and with those around us.
As we light our candles of hope and peace, let each action we make an action bringing us closer to each other and god’s peace and freedom, and justice, truth, and love.