Faith musings in an exciting world

Advent 2020

01/19/2021 11:44

[Is. 64:1-9; Mk. 13:24-37]


Peace to you and grace. Amen.




The first candle is lit, three more.


We wait, that’s all we seem to be doing these days.



The people in Isaiah’s text today however are tired of waiting.


They’re tired of waiting, even though they admit that it’s their own fault that God is hiding from them, that God is absent from them. But they’ve repented and now they expect God to take charge. And God will indeed take charge, and in the next chapter God will speak of a new creation, of what God plans to do,


65:17 For I am about to create new heavens

    and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered

    or come to mind.

18  But be glad and rejoice forever

    in what I am creating;


And the people expect a lot from God, special effects and all. They expect some awe and noise from their God.


64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

    so that the mountains would quake at your presence—

2 as when fire kindles brushwood

    and the fire causes water to boil—


They have been in exile in Babylon and they want to return to their ancestral country. “Now how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”


They want to feel God’s presence again, they believe God is out there, but they want him close-by, like a father. They want to feel connected again, to the land and their God; they want to feel cared for, touched.


Not everything has been bad in exile, especially if you were part of the elite, but they want to go home: it’s the deep the longing to sing in their own language, in their own land, in their own Temple, according to their own tradition, to their own God.


Their impatience is palpable. They’re tired of waiting.



And God did come to the people in exile, to the people walking in darkness, living in darkness; God did tear open the heavens and God did come down to save the people, though perhaps not with the special effects they had expected.



Are we impatient? Are we calling out for God who doesn’t seem to be answering, who seems hidden? Are we tired of sitting in darkness, in shadows? Are we done repenting? What do we expect from God?



The texts for the first Sunday of Advent always talk about the Coming of the Lord, and in the Christian interpretation what is meant by that is the Second Coming of Christ. An advent in the time of Jesus happened when a Roman Emperor was hailed at his return to the capital, usually after battle. It was a victory march. Many Christians believe hat this is what will happen when Jesus will return to earth to judge, a triumphant victory parade with all the trappings of a Roman general. And reading our passage from Mark today, we get a glimpse of what that might look like. There’s a whole theological and economic system attached to this.



But God reveals himself in surprising ways; the most surprising way is on the cross.



Are we tired of waiting? Do we think that it’s time for God to listen to us and come to us?


God isn’t a puppet on a string.


Are we tired of waiting, just like those people in exile in Babylon? If so, what do we expect will happen? A victory parade? What exactly is it that we’re so impatient for? What exactly do we anticipate God to do for us?


And our neighbours, what are they tired of waiting for? What can our neighbours expect from us? Justice, peace, love, hope, honesty?!


64:12 After all this, will you restrain yourself, O Lord?

    Will you keep silent, and punish us so severely?


Our neighbours could ask us exactly the same question.


This is a time of waiting. And we all think we deserve some answers, some action. We all expect something to change, something to happen. Anything! Perhaps we expect some special effects, to take away the boredom, the numbness. We may even feel that we’ve done all of the necessary repenting and that we now deserve a response.


Where’s our humility in all this?!



God did indeed respond, and the Jewish nation returned out of exile to their homeland, where they sang a new song for their God, in a new Temple, in their own language and according to their own tradition. Their wait was over.



The first candle is lit, three more.


We wait, that’s all we seem to be doing these days.


And soon, Christ will come...