Advent — the now and the not yet

“In this season, the church celebrates two things: God has already acted definitively on our behalf, and God will act definitively in the future to bring his purposes once and for all. That is what it means to watch and wait for the second advent of Christ, not matter how long it takes.” — Fleming Rutledge, Advent

Of course, the terms “watch and wait” imply a certain meaning for us. It implies inactivity and laziness. This is not the term used by Jesus. You have to be alert to watch and wait. You have to anticipate. There is knowledge of what you are waiting on… and active discernment to sift through all the noise so you can finally see what you’ve longed for in that waiting period.

Simeon “waited” in the Temple area. He had to sort through all the noise and keep looking. Day by day he was there. He wasn’t napping. He was looking. When his eyes beheld the Hope of all nations, he knew.

Watching and waiting takes discernment and discipline. We can be too quick. The passages in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 are key passages in Advent. They are also key passages for those looking for “the rapture.” That leads to impatience and lack of discernment.

I still remember the tiny booklet, “88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Come in 1988.” Then, there is the followup booklet: “89 Reasons Why Jesus Will Come in 1989.” (The author gave up after that.)

It’s a great example of laziness in waiting.

Let me be Simeon. One who looks and day by day asks the Lord for more insight as to what I will see. One who prays and learns to discern the voice of the Spirit. One who longs for the Desire of All Nations and sifts out all the other noise until HE comes…

There is a lot of noise to sift through these days. I have been as distracted as anyone. My mind shifts to other activities and a lot of other junk where undiscerning believers spend their time. It is the disciplined spirit that learns to wait… and to “work” in the waiting as well.

In this dark season, O Lord, teach us to wait. Teach to hear. In this darkness let there be a focus where we long for the light. Sometimes we dwell in darkness and make it our new normal. Let darkness give us longing again for that great light. Amen.

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