Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent 1 Midweek Homily

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5).

God’s Word exhorts us to patience, and the glory of waiting.  Waiting is not something we are good at.  That is why Advent is something of an awkward season for us.  We don’t really know what to do with it.  We can’t wait to put up all the decorations, we don’t hold much back.  Rather than sing advent hymns, we would much prefer to jump ahead to Joy to the World.

After all, where is the glory in waiting and being patient?  If you want something, you are just supposed to go get it.  In our fallen world there is no glory in waiting patiently.  There’s no dignity in it.  You are supposed to be a go-geter – the master of your own destiny – get what you want – eat, drink, be merry for tomorrow we die.

But for Christians it’s not so.  For it is not as though we live and then die.  Rather in dying we truly live.  All of life for us is an Advent of sorts.  We are waiting.  Living as pilgrims, as travelers in this fallen world.  Waiting for the coming of the Lord where he will burn everything up, and create a new heaven and a new earth.  At the calling of His voice and at that last trumpet blast, we will rise from our graves, and meet him in the air, and nothing will be hidden anymore.  Children will no longer be killed in their mother’s wombs. Our sons and daughters will not carry weapons in a foreign land.  There will be no war, no cruelty, no murder. You will no longer be anxious or embarrassed about your life – because your life will be in Christ – and He will love you and you will shine like the son.

The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Our own bodies bear witness to this, with our aches and pains, our incurable conditions, our flesh, our organs, our beating hearts.  We are more frail than what we think or imagine.  And we all have a terminal condition. We’re all in the same boat in a way – just different timing – different degrees of waiting and remaining patient. From dust you came and to dust you shall return.  

Your waiting, and your enduring is worth it.  Be patient, Christians, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rains. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Your destiny is not your dead end job.  Your less than secure retirement will not hinder God’s will for you.  You will receive inexpressible joys which in love he has prepared for you when he will at last end this valley of sorrow and take you to Himself in heaven. Be patient and suffer well in the life that God has placed you.  He works all things together for good for those who love him.  So love him, place your trust in him.  Let God be God.

Find new ways to love and care for your family.  At work seek to give greater honor to your boss, and open yourself up for greater kindness to your coworkers.  Contrary to the fallen world there is glory in waiting.  Your suffering is not in vain, your enduring hardship is not evil, but it is good.  For you do not have a God who is unable to sympathize with you in your weaknesses, but you have a God who has been tempted in every way, just as you are--yet was without sin. God says that our strength is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore let yourself be weak for once, let yourself be helpless.  Let God fight for you – let him fight your battles – and let Him speak for you – and defend you – and love you.                  

Rejoice loudly dear Christian, your God comes to you mounted on a colt the fowl of a donkey.  The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, Jesus is coming.  And yet Jesus is here to preach His Gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to give sight to the blind, and to free those who are trapped by bondage to sin.

Jesus rides to the cross, mounted on a beast of burden.  Cast your sins on him.  Take off your layers of pride and vanity, cast off works of darkness, and throw them at his feet.  Let go of your grudges against those whom you are called to love, and repent.  Jesus is riding to the cross to undo the mess you’ve made. Let us fix our eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God – that you might be where he is.

Because there is peace in heaven there is peace on earth.  And there is peace for you.  In the kingdom of God you don’t have to be a go-geter.  And you are not the master of your destiny.  Contrary to what the world thinks, God does not help those who help themselves.  He only helps the helpless.  And well, that you.  Be glad for that!  Good things come to those who wait.  And you will receive everything you want and more. Like a farmer, wait upon the rains of Holy Baptism that floods upon you daily.  Wait for the precious fruit of the altar, where drink from heaven is given for thirsty souls.  Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you live - now and in eternity.  Your Christ comes to you. In Jesus name. Amen.      

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