November 27, 2010

The Son of Man Is Coming

by Janice Love
First Sunday of Advent:  Isaiah 2: 1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13: 11-14, Matthew 24: 36-44

And so we begin the waiting…again.  Paul writes, “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.”  We are two thousand years nearer now and still we wait, surrounded yet by too much night.  My husband likes to take the time to talk with our 7 year old son about the resurrection – that day of glory when Christ will come again and make all things new.  The other night, out of the blue, Jameson’s last words before falling asleep were, “I hope the resurrection happens soon (to which I replied, “Amen”) – while I’m alive…that would be neat.”  And I was struck with how much was caught up in that word “neat” – all the hopes and fears of all the years.  As the dark maw of cholera devours people in Haiti, as abnormal amounts of rain drowns people and crops in too many places, as corruption cripples and crumbles the foundations of nations, I am inclined to shout to Jesus, “would you hurry up and get here already!” 

We North Americans have a hard time waiting, for anything.  If pushing a button does not bring about near instantaneous results we begin to feel our stress and frustration levels rise.  I have noticed in the last few years how Halloween has become a month long celebration that slips almost seamlessly into the putting up of Christmas decorations (here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving early in October).  What is the point of waiting if you can have it all now?!   The reality, of course, is that we can’t have it all now.  For God’s own reasons we must wait yet for the Parousia.  Herein lies the gift that is Advent.  A time set aside to practice waiting, to get clear about what we are waiting for.  And it begins with waking up to the trouble we are all in.

A colleague of mine wrote an insightful and very helpful piece a few years ago, entitled “Advent Begins with Trouble” (by Rev. Dr. Edwin Searcy in Sanctifying Time).  In it he redirects our attention from the complex concepts of hope, peace, joy and love made too easily into “four safe platitudes” to the Advent lectionary texts.  Paying close attention to these texts, hosting them as we would welcome strangers, revels the deep “ache and grief that cries out for a saviour.”  This is the tough part about waking up, especially if we are just pretending to be asleep.  The beginning texts of the Advent season embody the spirit of the Psalms where we cry out our need for God.  And just like so many of those Psalms, in Advent we look to when God has answered in the past so that we might live in hope for the present, anticipating the arrival of God’s promised future.  As Ed reminds us in his piece, “the root word for ‘wait’ in both Hebrew and Latin also means ‘hope’”. 

We live between the times of Jesus’ arrivals.  In Advent we prepare to look back to a babe born in occupied territory, both hunted and overlooked, the promise that God is with us and we look ahead to Jesus full return.  In wonder we realize that we too are a part of the story of what God is up to for the sake of the world.  We have a part to play, if only a supporting role.  We can choose to live honorably as in the day – the day that Jesus has inaugurated with his life, death and resurrection.  We can put on the Lord Jesus Christ, for the Son of Man is coming – and at an unexpected hour too.  It will be neat, Jameson, really neat.

Kyrie eleison,
Come soon, Lord Jesus!

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