Expectant, Joy-filled Waiting: Week Three of Advent [19DEC2013]
Readings: Psalm 50, 59 ◊ Zech 4:1-14 ◊ 2 Peter 1:12-21 ◊ Luke 17:21 ◊
Reading: Choose the Life—Exploring a Faith that Embraces Discipleship by Bill Hull
The way we wait is very telling… the outward manifestation of our lives; how we live, the things we value, where we spend our money and time, and things like that are the equivalent of a spiritual EKG or MRI. These actions of our lives indicate the value we place on the testimony of Jesus. Yes, the way we wait reveals what we truly believe.
“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ… Only the believer is obedient—only the obedient believe.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The endurance of our faith is tested during our wait. Another way of saying this; a persevering and faithfully obedient wait is part of the work of sanctification… it is faith being proven genuine.
“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)
“Wisdom is shown to be right by its results” (Matthew 11:19) –Jesus
Our hope is looking forward to completion and ultimate reconciliation with our Father and Savior God. Anticipation of this day brings delight even now as we live out repentant and grateful lives with peaceful joy always staying alert and ready for His return, but stalwart in our confidence of being held by Him until the universal Shalom of God is ushered into the ReCreation (The New Heaven and New Earth). This is our joy. “I’m bringing you,” the angel says, “good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day… a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). And so it is; Great Joy… past, present, and ultimate future. Hope; with joy now, looking forward to eternal reconciliation and complete restoration. This is Joy. This is the universal Shalom of the Creator-Savior-King, the Triune God.
Joan Chittister, writes in The Liturgical Year; “If, focused on the Christ Child at the very beginning of the liturgical year; we do not have the spiritual vision to see meaning there and to develop it within ourselves, there is nothing else on earth that will ever be able to supply it for us.” Indeed.
My thoughts on joy that are inspired from some of the writings of Joan Chittister follow (Yes, I am repeating these from yesterday’s blog):
- Joy is not about what happens to us…
- Joy is the meaning we give to what we do that determines the nature, the quality of the lives we live.
- Joy is not about self-centeredness (John 5:30)
- Happiness (true happiness) is not about self-satisfaction; it is about the joy that comes with a sense of purpose.
- Joy comes from living our lives immersed in the will of God; not self-aggrandizement.
- Joy is not in things; it is in us…
Advent asks us to deal with the basics of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Do I really believe in Christ? Have I put my hope and trust in him? Do I see the future through the eyes of the one who came to redeem the world from the power of evil? Is there a longing within me for him to be formed within, to take up residence in my personal life, in my home, and in my vocation? These are not easy questions to answer. They require meditation, intention, and above all, a commitment that remains steadfast. But if we would break away from a spiritual life growing cold and a Christ who is becoming distant, we must be attentive to our spiritual discipline and long for God to break in on us with new life. When we do this, we experience the true meaning of Advent spirituality. -Robert Webber; Ancient-Future Time
We continue with our recitation of the O Antiphons as we make our way to the eve of Christmas Eve.
The importance of the “O Antiphons” is twofold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. The Latin antiphons are from the Breviarium Romanum. The English versions, which are not always literal translations of the Latin, are from the Church of England’s Common Worship liturgy.
The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one—Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come”. Therefore Jesus, whose coming Christians have prepared for in Advent and whom they have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to them: “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to their Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.
Dec. 19—O Radix Jesse (Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 52:15, Habakkuk 2:3): O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the peoples; before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.
May our compassionate God drive all our anguish, bestow health, and give us by the loving-kindness of the Father, the kingdom of the heavens.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, by body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Eternal Lord our God, the beginning and end of our lives, give us grace to serve you with joy, that we might know that our full and lasting happiness is a life of constant service to you and our neighbor. 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.