This is a collection of sermons and thoughts about life, faith, Jesus, and the Episcopal Church. Most of this comes out of my work as an Episcopal priest, but some comes from my songwriting and other times of inspiration or wondering.
Whatever you believe, I pray you will be blessed by sharing in these thoughts.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I Don't Suppose You Could Speed Things Up?
Advent, Year A
December 1, 2013
Bay City, TX
Canticle 4 or 16
You do not know when the Son of Man
will be returning, Jesus said, so be ready, and wait expectantly for the coming
of the Son of Man.If I’m really honest,
I’m not the biggest fan of waiting…waiting and wondering and sitting
around.I tend to want things right
away.Jesus tells us to wait.The season of Advent tells us to wait and
gives us a chance to wait.In the words
of Stanley Hauerwas, Advent reminds us that we are to be a patient people in a
world of impatience.
Jesus told us that he would return
and put all things right, he just didn’t say when that would be. We don’t know and can’t know when Jesus is
coming back. We just know that we’re
waiting. We know that when we wait for
more than a few minutes, hours, or days for much of anything, we lose patience
or lose hope. I’m not going to wait
forever, we might say. Well,
two-thousand years of waiting isn’t forever, but it’s about as close as we can
realistically imagine, and here we are still waiting.
There is something deeply
gratifying about that, about knowing that as a people, we’ve been waiting for
nearly two millennia, and we are still here, waiting patiently, hopefully, and
often joyfully. Waiting is not usually associated
with hope and joy. I tend to think of
waiting as a boring if not down right morose affair, waiting for some good
thing to happen. Life must be less than great now if we’re waiting for something
we are waiting for life, the universe, and everything to be a whole lot better
when all is restored with Jesus’ return.
There is plenty of darkness in the world, and as Paul wrote in his
letter to the Romans, creation itself waits with eager longing for Jesus
return. We all want the world to be put
right, and it can be easy to get discouraged by the darkness in the world.
didn’t tell his disciples to be bored or morose or discouraged, however, as we
wait for his return. There’s plenty of
darkness in the world, and I don’t believe Jesus wanted us to add to that
darkness as we wait for him. We’d want
Jesus to return; we’re sad about the darkness of the world, but we don’t wait
by being mopey or fearful. We wait by
being joyful in our faith and in our crazy hope that all of the darkness will
one day be dispelled and that light will reign forever.
in a world of impatience, waiting faithfully and joyfully – that is the
challenge. We often wait for things by
distracting ourselves. We come up with
some activity to pass the time, to anesthetize ourselves to the reality of
waiting. The trouble is that when we are
distracted or anesthetized, we tend to forget.
The longer we are distracted, the less ready we are for whatever is
coming. Jesus tells us not to be
distracted but to wait patiently and be ready.
Wait and be ready
without distraction, and by the way, you have no idea how long you’ll be
waiting. That’s a rather tall
order. In Matthew 5, Jesus told his
disciples, “In the same way,let your lightshine
before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your
Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) I think this passage gives us some idea of
how we are to wait.
I’ve often heard sermons talking about our
need to wait and be ready, and while not specifically stated, the basic feeling
I’ve gotten from the sermon is “you’ve got to be religious, and pious,
and miserable in order to wait and be ready for Jesus.” Well, whenever I’m miserable, I don’t have an
overabundance of light shining. Let your
light shine before others, Jesus said.
Jesus calls us to wait with hope and joy. How do we do that? Perhaps counterintuitively, I think we wait
with hope and joy by slowing down. We
often want to go do something fun and exciting to be happy as we wait, but I
don’t think that’s necessarily how we wait for Jesus. We still get to have fun, don’t get me wrong,
but moments of fun don’t really sustain us.
Wait with hope and joy by slowing down, spending time in
prayer, spending time with loved ones.
We wait with hope and joy by slowing down enough to be still and know
God. We wait with hope and joy by
slowing down enough to notice the joy and blessings in our lives. We wait with hope and joy by slowing down
enough to realize that we are waiting with hope and joy.
also wait with hope and joy by slowing down enough to notice the darkness and misery
in the world. Talk about
counterintuitive. We choose as disciples
of Jesus to notice the darkness and misery of the world and then to respond by
prayer and action, speaking out in love and acting out in love.
Specifically this Advent, we can wait by not being overcome
by the clutter of the commercialized, secular Christmas season. We can wait this Advent by praying, by being
still, by giving thanks, by looking for opportunities to serve other
people. We can give to those who are
hungry or to those who have a hard time keeping their electricity on. We can wait by slowing down, keeping our
faith with hope and joy, and letting our light shine before others that they
may see our good works and give glory to God.
We wait by keeping our faith and joy, waiting patiently
in a world with little time for faith or patience.