Advent waiting

First Sunday of Advent (November 30, 2008)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 64:1-9; Ps. 80:1-7, 17-19; I Cor. 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37

Cindy spent the week with her mother and brothers in Ohio. They sorted through her father’s personal belongings and shared memories of his life. She plans to return to Amman, December 1.

In Jordan, we visited an MCC partner in the northern village of Wahadneh to discuss a possible peacebuilding project. Christians and Muslims in the area have little interaction. Some religious leaders are eager to improve the level of social interaction.

Children at the Latin Parish School in Wahadneh

The Common Lectionary readings for this first Sunday in Advent are about waiting.

Isaiah waits for God to dramatically intervene in the affairs of nations. “Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down,” Isaiah pleads, “To make your name known to your adversaries so that nations might tremble at your presence!” (Is. 64:1-2). Isaiah readily admits human failings. But all is not hopeless. God “works for those who wait for him”(v.4b). We are the clay and God is the potter who shapes us (v.8).

The psalmist also waits. “Stir up your might, and come to save us!” the psalmist appeals to God (Ps. 80:2b). “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (vv. 3, 7 and 19).

In the Epistle reading, Paul promises the church in Corinth that they lack no spiritual gift as they wait for “the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:7). Indeed, God will strengthen them to the end so that they will be blameless when Christ returns (v.8).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of the signs that will precede his return with great power (Mark 14:24-25). He warns that some may grow weary of waiting. He urges all to “keep alert” (v.33b), to “be on the watch” (v.34), and to keep awake (vv. 35a, 37b).

As we enter this season of Advent, what are we waiting for? This week, I experienced what it means to long for Cindy’s return from Ohio. And we both eagerly wait for our son Jeremy to visit at Christmas.

May we long as much for God’s intervention in the affairs of nations. As we wait, may we eagerly do our part to bring peace where mistrust and hate abound. May we allow God to shape us into useful vessels. May we be blameless and keep awake to the things of God as we wait for Christ to return and set all things right.

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