Advent 1st Sunday: Year C [07DEC12] Theme for week 1—Waiting & Hope
For Jerusalem will stumble and Judah will fall, because they speak out against the LORD and refuse to obey him. They provoke him to his face. (Isaiah 3:8)
Maybe there are others who think like me or maybe not, but this passage reminds me of a period in my life when all my actions and the way I lived “spoke out against the LORD.” I lived entirely for myself, refusing to obey the Way of God. The saddest point of all this is that I knew better. I had been taught the Way of God and even believed it to be true, but I wanted to do my own thing. I provoked him to his face.
Today my reflections teeter between solemn and joyous, although more to the joyous because I have clear witness to the work God has done and continues to do in my life. I look back to a time when I did not know how to wait. Impatience, greed, selfish-ambition, and a host of unhealthy attitudes ruled my spirit. Today, I am not free from the temptations of these attitudes, but the Spirit who lives within me helps me to overcome them day by day.
5 LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. 7 I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16)
Today I consider the state of mind of the man I used to be when I did not embrace “waiting” time. I am so grateful to the Lord, my God; I am no longer that man. What I remember of him, he was narcissistic, selfish, relentlessly ambitious, and oblivious to the souls that surrounded him. Blind to the divine, he sought spiritual fulfillment in selfish pleasures—trinkets, toys, food, drink, popularity, and power.
“Not everyone can wait; neither the sated nor the satisfied nor those without respect can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them and people who look up with reverence to the greatest in the world. Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that I supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us—the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; the Lord Jesus I coming; Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendom! -Dietrich Bonhoeffer; God is in the Manger
Turning to God changed him (me) and with the change brought the discipline of waiting and savoring the presence of God in each and every moment of life. This is the place where God is always most prominent—in the moment—in the now. Learning to wait is a priceless gift that has taught me more about misplaced priorities and how to reorient them in a God honoring manner than any other exercise or discipline. For this, I am grateful…for the life it has given to me, to my family, to my friends, and to the communities that I serve.
“Be holy. Love one another. Love one another even more. Live quiet lives, mind your own business, and work with your hands, so people will respect the way you live.” (1 Thess. 4:1-12)
Today my hope is active, in part, because of the reflection on my attitudes toward waiting, both the former and the current. I see how far I have traveled by trusting and following my mentor, Jesus. The awareness of how far he has brought me in such a short time brings confidence to me that his promise to “see me through to completion and maturity in Him” is true. No matter how far I have yet to go, my Triune God, is with me—working in me—to see my completion through to the end.
“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your righteousness.” (Psalm 17:15)
O Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise.
O eternal Glory of heaven, blessed Hope of mortals, give your right hand to those who are getting up; let the soul arise sober and, ardent in praise, returning thanks to you.
Lord, our eternal God, you alone are worthy of our highest praise. Help us to love you above all things, that we might serve our brothers and sisters with a love that is worthy of you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Lord, hear my prayer, And let my cry come unto you.