Advent #3

Cathryn Vitek   -  

As we make our way through the final eight days
until we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve,
I sometimes (okay, maybe frequently)
have a difficult time being present to the waiting Advent calls us to.
My mind keeps jumping ahead to December 25 th
and the ever-growing list of things that still need to be done. Because even though what we are meant to be celebrating is that the Messiah has come,
that’s not our cultural focus.

Our cultural focus is Santa
and the gifts that he brings;
and even though we do pause
and remember to say
“Thank you, God, for the extraordinary gift you have given us in Jesus”
it’s the preparing for Santa part that seems to seize our focus and/or our time. at least that’s been my experience.

This year, though, I’ve been exploring what would happen in my soul
if I inverted that routine and practiced Advent waiting (instead of Christmas prep). I feel like the Holy Spirit dropped a little insight in an unexpected way,
and I wonder if it might bless you, too.
But in fair warning, getting there will take a little explaining,
so this will be a two-parter….

One of the reasons I think we have such a difficult time understanding what Advent waiting is about is because we are waiting for something that has already happened.

Though a major focus of the Advent season is the second coming of Christ, when at last all darkness will be destroyed,
we don’t exactly long for that in the truly Biblical sense;
it’s a bit scary, we don’t understand it, don’t know what fully to expect,
and we know we can trust Jesus, so…..yeah.

But a baby being born? That we can wrap our heads around.

God keeping God’s promises? Yes!
But I think that’s where our Advent waiting gets short-circuited.

Because we have the benefit of knowing God did.

But if we are truly in a posture of Advent waiting,
then our waiting is with the nation of Israel who,
at the time of Jesus’ birth, had not heard a message from God in hundreds of years.

Hundreds of
Years.

The Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus’ lineage and we are told there were
“fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,
and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah” (Matthew 1:17).

King David’s reign was really the last great time for Israel.
It was that kind of reign that Israel was hoping the Messiah would re-establish.

After King David’s reign things went downhill pretty fast….

So, at the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel had been waiting twenty-eight generations, 840 years, give or take,
for God to step in and right all that was wrong.

That is roughly the same amount of time between the High Middle Ages and now. The printing press has only been around for 586 years.

840 years is a long time to wait in faith
with hope
that God will keep the promise that God made.

They were, for much of this time, a captive people.
Exiled.

And yet they held on to
God’s promise
that a descendant of David’s would always be on the throne.

Although there were seasons when they thought they did, they didn’t really know when.
Although there were seasons when they thought they did, they didn’t really know how.

Time and again it looked like it was time. But then it wasn’t.

And still,
they waited
in faith
with hope
that God will keep the promise that God made.

Can you imagine that kind of waiting?

Hold that thought.
and I’ll meet you back here on Wednesday.

Pastor Cathy