It can be difficult to wait.
Ask the teenager who is counting down days until they can get their driver’s license or the bride anxiously awaiting her wedding day; it is difficult to wait. These important days, still far off in the future, have a way of controlling our thoughts and actions until they become all-consuming, the only thing we think or talk about. Or even consider the present season, as brightly wrapped presents begin appearing under the tree and Christmas morning still multiple days away, it becomes difficult to wait to enjoy the treasures clearly marked for our pleasure. And while these moments that we long for will bring much joy to life, the danger is that we spend so much time focused on the future reward that we fail to live in the moment.
The Old Testament is filled with riveting and powerful stories that capture the imagination, and provide meaning to life. They are stories of romance and adventure, war and rage, joy and laughter, crying and pain. And while these stories continue to marvel our imaginations and compel us to keep reading, it’s amazing how many of them are focused on waiting – waiting in anticipation for God to make things right. Abraham, Moses, David, Israel, all are given promises of great legacies and amazing rewards, yet they are all forced to wait for the promise. Even the prophets, who speak of a coming king who will make all things right, still must admit that the coming Messiah is many years in the future. Time and time again, these stories while compelling, are always looking forward to a promise in the future, a promise made by God to make all things right.
Finally, that promise was fulfilled. Finally, in the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem a child was born to a virgin that would change the course of history. God didn’t just send the Messiah, God came in the flesh in order to make things right. And the angels proclaimed peace on earth and declared a new day had dawned.
We live on the other side of that promise. We, who celebrate the stories of the virgin birth, the angelic announcement, and the visit by the Magi proclaim to the world that there is reason for hope because of the tiny child that was born. Jesus came, and his life ushered in a new reality for the world. The kingdom has come. The promise has been fulfilled.
Yet we look around us and we must admit we don’t always see peace and goodwill. God promised that the Messiah would come and make the world right, but the world is not right. In the city I live in shootings have become an almost daily occurrence. Every morning, as I read the paper, I lament the violence and loss. Just last week, a father and mother lost their lives in a house fire leaving three children now as orphans. These stories, and others like them, are not reserved to my city but are rampant throughout the country and throughout the world. These are not the signs of peace and goodwill. When will the promises be fulfilled?
So we continue to wait. We continue to wait for God to wholly and completely make things right. We continue to wait for the new Heaven and new earth to descend from the sky beautifully adorned like a bride on her wedding day. We wait for the redemption of the creation, for God to restore what was lost in the fall when sin entered the world. We wait in anticipation and longing for the Messiah’s work to be completed, for the hope that comes from the birth of this little child to be fully made known and realized throughout the entire world.
And while we wait, we live. We live lives of holiness and righteousness awaiting the consummation of all things. We live as if the coming kingdom is a present reality even now in the world. We live in fulfillment of the words of Jesus, “may your Kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as it already is in Heaven.” We live as a sign to the rest of the world that the Messiah has come, and will come again. We live with hope and love, even if no one else does.
We wait, but we wait with purpose. Beloved, while you are waiting, strive to be found by God at peace, without spot or blemish (2 Peter 3:14). During this time of Advent, while we wait for the Christ Child to make all things well, may we be encouraged to live lives of holiness and righteousness as we hasten the coming of the new day.