Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Waiting is not exactly something most of us do with much ease or grace. Watching folks in the various check out lines is illustration enough. Not even the Express Check Outs move fast enough. But, it is not just in the Christmas rush that we are able to see this characteristics in others or ourselves. What we usually do while waiting is look like we are in some kind of serious distress and voice our impatient displeasure. Of course, there are the occasional souls who plan for the waiting moments in their lives and open a book or engage someone in a conversation that helps pass the time.
The folks in the early church found themselves in a season of waiting after Jesus ascended into heaven. Before Jesus left the earth, He said some things to those who were nearest Him which led them to understand that He would be returning before all of them had died. With this bit of insider information, many believers figured it was going to be a very short time before Jesus was seen again on planet Earth. When it did not happen, those in waiting did some natural things. Some started questioning the whole idea of Jesus returning. Others countered with trying to explain the delay by doing some fancy chronological work. The whole business created a good bit of confusion among those who were standing in the waiting line with their heads turned toward the clouds.
In the third chapter of II Peter, the Apostle seeks to address what was happening in the church as those within talked about the issue. In verse14 of chapter 3, he writes, "...beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by Him at peace, without spot or blemish, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation." It is still good advice for us as we consider that we are in Advent, a liturgical season which underscores the value of waiting. Instead of hurrying the season, the Word found in the Advent readings encourages us to make the most the wait. It, too, is a time not to be wasted, but a time for preparing ourselves to stand once again in the presence of the celebration of the birth of Jesus in our world.