I hate waiting. I am impatient. I think I always have been. Just in the last week, I've got frustrated waiting on hold to change an address on my credit card, tried to avoid a traffic jam by going a different way (which invariably takes longer!), and felt myself losing all sanity waiting for my kids to finish their tea….. I hate waiting.
Which is interesting - when we're in the season of advent - which is all about waiting, and expecting, remembering the waiting and expectation of those who were waiting for Jesus' birth. And not only that, but remembering that we too, as followers of Jesus, are waiting and looking forward with great hope and expectation to the day when Jesus comes again.
Waiting for Jesus' birth
At Barney's this Sunday, we thought about two people who Luke writes about (Luke 2:25-40), who had been waiting for Jesus birth for a long, long time - Simeon and Anna. Simeon was a righteous and devout man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel. And Anna, an 84 year old widow, who had been worshiping in the temple day and night for almost all of her life. When Mary and Jesus bought Jesus to the temple when he was eight days old, both these old, faithful, patient worshippers rejoiced and gave thanks to God. Their waiting had an end, the hope they had been longing for had come to pass, their expectations were fulfilled.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (v30-32)
Waiting for the Wedding Party
When he was a bit older than eight days old, Jesus told a story about waiting (Matt 25:1-13) to help people understand what the Kingdom of God was like. He talked about ten virgins who were bridesmaids at a wedding. Their job was to light burning lamps or torches and light the way for the bridegroom when he arrived for the wedding party. They were waiting a long time - and five of the bridesmaids didn't have oil for the lamps. They weren't well enough prepared to wait. While they were off buying oil (in the middle of the night!) the bridegroom arrived. Five of the bridesmaids went on in to the party. The others missed out...
Waiting for the Kingdom of God
Jesus' story of waiting for the bridegroom and the wedding party is massively important for us today. We're all waiting - not just for Christmas - but for the Kingdom of God to break in to our lives and to our world more and more and more. We're waiting for the day when Jesus returns, and finally restores everything in heaven and on earth to the way he originally intended it to be. It feels well overdue. And we don't like waiting.
I'm reminded in this season of advent, to keep waiting. To keep looking forward with expectation and hope. To remember that Jesus hasn't given up on this world - far from it. His Kingdom is present and at hand, it's breaking in all around us, and the day will come, when we see him face to face, and the broken world around us is restored and made the way God originally intended it to be.
I'm challenged to wait like Simeon - who was sure of his future hope. I'm challenged to wait like Anna - with continual devotion to God, with worship, with prayer, with fasting, with hope. And I'm challenged to wait, not like the unprepared bridesmaids - not being unprepared, uncommitted, half-hearted, apathetic, - but rather like those who were well prepared, who were ready, who were engaged, who's eye was on the ball, who were, in a very real way, shining as lighten the darkness.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)