Tuesday, November 17, 2009

O Lord, How Shall I Meet You

"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves...stay awake at all times, praying that you have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

The season of advent is about waiting.  Something which is not our most highly prized virtue.  Waiting is a fine art that our impatient age has all but forgotten.  We want things now.  And the means to have them now.  And we want things on our time table – our schedule.  In the words of one popular preacher, we want “Our best life now.”  Or as the popular phrase goes “live in the now.”   

Yet, the Lord God, the ruler of the roaring sea and waves, though He can create instantaneously, He desires time.  Time and waiting is good.  Our Lord uses the waiting of time to create and recreate.  On the fourth day of creation God set the sun, moon, and stars in place.  They mark the time of the day and the seasons.  The fallen and brittle leaves on the ground skip in the cold breeze waiting to be ground into the hard earth.  Each sunset and cold, dark winter night is a sign of a looming end – a reminder of death – for from dust we come and to dust we return.  And every sunrise reminds us of a calling to new life, as we see the glistening lighted beams of the resurrection.                   

The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul and poor in spirit. Celebrating advent is for those who mourn and thirst for righteousness.  It is for those who are imperfect and confess, I a poor sinner.  It is for children who long for the togetherness of family and the comfort that it brings.  It is for those who long for what is good and true and wholesome.  It is for those who long for home.  

The greatest and most delicate joys on earth involve waiting.  We wait for an end to war and the distress among the nations.  We wait for fruit to ripen on our kitchen countertops.  We wait to hear the singing voices of the children at St. Paul’s.

Who has not felt the emotional anticipation of waiting to be loved by another, or kissed by another?  This waiting and anticipation grows and blossoms and from it sprouts immeasurable joys.  The bonds of love are solidified and spoken to each other always in anticipations of hearing the other, “do you love me?”  We wait for great things. 

Who has not waited to be healed from an illness?  Who has looked upon their own body - your own bones and joints - with its weaknesses and chronic pains and hoped for release?  Who here agonizes over the death of a loved one?  Who here wakes up in the night with a sense of dark emptiness or confusion?
We wait for great things.  We wait for receiving that which has been lost to us.  And we wait for the one who promises to give to us.  Christians live in a ‘now but not yet’ reality.  We live in confidence concerning that which we receive: Holy Baptism, forgiveness, and eternal love between God our Father and His whole creation.  Our “not yet” is the longing that comes in between.    

Our “not yet” is the waiting.  Our “not yet” is the tears and searching.  Our not yet is homelessness and hunger.  The “not yet” is violence and neglect.  It is terrorism, economic depression, disease and loneliness.  It is a multitude of questions that we cannot find ready answers for. It is the roaring of the sea and the waves which crash over the Christian church.  The roaring of gossip and confusion that often wreaks havoc upon all believers…It is the fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world….For our Lord says that the powers of heaven will be shaken.   
As we minister to one another in Christian love, we ought know that we cannot ultimately fix a dying and aging world.  As we attend to the “not yet” of creation and minister to the muffled cries of the needy we meet with the living God himself in Jesus Christ.  Jesus comes in a familiar face.  He comes as neighbor and as brother.  In the advent of Christ – in His coming – he ties us together as brothers and sisters – this is the advent message.     

Soon we will hear the angels sing.  Now, that is, but not yet - Soon.  All that has been fallen will be lifted up.  And all that has been lost will be restored to you in full.  The crashing waves and roaring of the sea will be stilled by a child.  
When the Son of Man comes in a cloud with power and great glory to judge the nations, how shall we meet him?  Our Lord tells us in His Gospel today, “stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." 

Today we stand in hope and expectation of Advent - that God has come and is coming as He has promised.  We are called to stay awake and be ready.  We are made ready only by Christ’s coming to us.  And by awakening to His coming we may rest secure.  Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to His people on earth.      
Let us learn how to wait together!  O glorious Sun, now come, Send forth Your beams so cheering.  Come quickly Lord Jesus.  In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

I have written about Advent and Christmas Hymns HERE.

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