Waiting (2019)

By Rick Summy, Senior Pastor (2019)

Sometimes Advent is understood simply as the season that sprints to Christmas, a season to get through in order to get to the good stuff. But there is more to this season than that. Advent begins in darkness. It tells the honest truth about the human condition. It calls us to face some hard realities. And to wait.

Like it or not, we human beings spend a lot of time waiting. Some, including many sleeping at the Dakota County Emergency Shelter, are waiting for a new place to live, perhaps a new job, for the chance at a more secure sense of belonging and home.

Waiting in darkness makes us all aware of our need of light. Hungry people are daily aware of their need for food. War-devastated countries wait for peace. The displaced long for a place to live. The poor wait for the possibility of hope. The lonely long for companionship. Those suffering illness wait to be well. Those who have fallen through the cracks look for a place to stand.

Advent is a season in which the whole world waits, but not without hope.

This is reflected in our worship. The blue of our altar paraments reminds us of a color of dark night, but with the faint glow of the approaching dawn. At first there is just one candle, a slight sliver of light. And then two… The Advent wreath is a symbol of our waiting and the ever widening circle of light swells the hope that God has not abandoned us, has the power to make things new, even here, even now.

This Advent we will be encouraged to keep awake in the darkness, because God arrives unexpectedly both in time and in those who bear his presence. God does not show up in a palace but in a stable. John the Baptizer will call us to prepare the way of the Lord by bearing fruits that befit repentance, by feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, caring for those in need, lifting those who have fallen.

Isaiah will remind us that the way of the Lord comes through the wilderness, transforming that foreboding place into a fertile land of abundance and possibility. Matthew will reflect that hope by reporting that Jesus gave sight to the blind, led the lame to walk, caused the deaf to hear, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, and preached good news to the poor. As our anticipation continues to build, as we light the final candle on the wreath, as the dawn ever so slowly breaches the horizon, an angel announces an amazing pregnancy.

We need Advent. We need it’s truth and simplicity. We need it’s honesty – often the world and our lives are dark. We need its power to call us into silent hope and waiting and to know our deep longing for God.

Advent is a gift. Hear it call you to reflect and to hope, even when it’s hard to see. Let it slow your busyness and allow you to be. Watch how Advent sheds a dawning light on our aching and longing and need for one another. See how it reveals the needs each of us have and calls us all to this community that provides holy shelter for us all, this place in which God promises to be present, this gathering that feels like home.

The time will come to celebrate at Christmas. To light all the candles, to sing all the songs, to hear the angels sing.

The time will come to hear the old, old story of a homeless child born in poverty and we will realize again that God’s light comes in unexpected ways, through unusual circumstances, among surprising people. The time will come to celebrate this God of ours who brings hope to the despairing, something from nothing, life from death. This God of ours who shows up, is with us, for us, one of us.

Let’s wait for it.