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Sermon December 3, 2023

Advent 1 B 2023 Welcome to the Season of Waiting Sermon

Mark 13:24-37

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Welcome to Advent.  Welcome to the Season of Waiting.  Advent is a season of waiting.  And so, right away, I think we all realize that Advent is a season that runs counterculture to our world.  After all, who in this world likes to wait.

We are a people who want what we want when we want it.  Instant credit.  Instant food. Instant gratification.  There is no time to wait.  We want it now.

We can’t even wait for Thanksgiving to be over before we begin our Christmas shopping.  Btw: I think I saw the first Christmas decorations for sale in September (or was it August). 

And now, we have Black Friday Sales.  And Cyber Monday Sales.  We can even shop while we are in our pajamas at 3 o’clock in the morning.  Computers, tablets, smart phones, and other devices connected to the internet give us access to 24-hour 365-day shopping.  And we do not need to wait long to receive our order. 

Waiting for something is no longer considered a value in our society.  The old saying, “Good things come to those who wait” is quickly being replaced by the idea “Good things come to those that go out and get it.” 

On this, the First Sunday in the Season of Advent, we have before us a text full of fearful images.  The text informs us of a time that will soon take place when the skies darken, and the stars fall from the sky, and the heavens will be shaken. 

And all of this will come unexpectedly upon those who did not stay awake and alert for these events to happen.

Unfortunately, we in the 21st century have a short attention span.  And many of us will be included with the folks who failed to keep awake for the coming of the Lord.  Why?  Because waiting is hard.  And waiting is painful.  Waiting is boring. And get this, most of us don’t even know how to wait.

Have you ever waited for something?  It’s not easy.  I tend to pace the floor and talk to myself.  And that, my friends, is not healthy.  Anticipation does not come easy.

So, what are the things that we wait for in this world.  Perhaps it’s a new job, a restored relationship, or maybe the latest gadget advertised on TV. 

Maybe you have been waiting for change in our world.  I know I have.  Everyday we seem to be bombarded with stories concerning injustice, violence, pain, deceit, and brokenness from all corners of the world.  

“When will it end?” we ask.  “How long will this continue?  Will there ever be a day when humanity will live together in peace and harmony?”

And the answer is Yes.  But we do not know when that day will be.  And so, we lose hope.  And we do not stay alert and awake for that glorious new day.

The Israelites were no different.  At the time of Christ’s birth, they had been waiting centuries for the promised Messiah.  And it was not an easy wait.  Imagine for a moment that you are an Israelite, waiting for the promised Messiah.   

Generation after generation, your family waited.  And nothing happened.  And one by one, you watch the people around you begin to doubt that the Messiah will ever come.  Waiting was painfully hard for the Israelites, just as it is for us today. 

The Bible informs us that “in the fullness of time,” the Messiah did come through the birth of the Christ Child born in Bethlehem.  And now, today, we wait for His triumphant return.  And one by one, we too watch people around us begin to doubt that Christ will come again.

Stay alert.  Keep awake.  How is this possible?  It is no wonder we want to cry out “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now.”

Recently I read this concerning patience.  Patience is not simply the ability to wait – Patience is how we behave, how we live, while we are waiting. 

And how should we live?  We are told to love one another.  And what does this look like? 1 John chapter 4, verse 9 states “In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into our world so that we might live through Him.”

Love made manifest.  That means that love is seen, it is visible.  Love is just a word or sentiment until it is lived out before our eyes.  1 John writes “This is what love looks like in real life.  God sent His only Son.”  Love is not a feeling, an emotion, idea, or philosophy.  Love is a choice and action.          

So, how do we love one another as we wait for Christ to return?  We are told to accept one another.  Counsel one another.  Serve one another.  Be kind to one another. Speak the truth to one another.  Encourage one another.  Forgive one another.  Live in peace with one another.  Confess our sins to one another.  Pray for one another.  Comfort one another.  Show compassion to one another.  Show holy affection to one another.

That is the work that the master left for his slaves (his servants) in verse 34 of our Gospel text.  And the Good News is this.  When we live out God’s love for us, we suddenly find that waiting is no longer difficult.  It is easy.  And time passes by quickly.  

And we can be, and we will be “Alert,” and “Awake” for the coming of the Lord.

And so, I say to you again, “Welcome to the Season of Advent.  Welcome to the Season of Waiting.”  The question is “How will we live out our lives as we wait for the Lord to return?”  The Gospel of John provides the answer.  John 13, verse 35 states “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Let us pray:  Faithful God, your promises stand unshaken throughout all generations.  Renew us in hope, that as we wait, we may be awake and alert watching for the glorious return of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.