The Journey Beyond Waiting

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

O Waiting God, we lift up our soul and trust in You. Teach us your truth, so we might be able to keep your Word, revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Teach us your ways, O God and guide us in your paths.  May our lives be marked by faith active in love as we watch and wait for your breaking into our world once more. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING      Scripture: Isaiah 11: 1-6    The Peaceful Kingdom

11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

 the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.3 His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN #155                                  verse 1                                  

“Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

Rejoice, the Lord is King!  Your Lord and King adore!

Rejoice, give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!   Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING          Luke 21:25-38            The Coming of the Son of Man

 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and  know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly   I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.  And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

 

THE SERMON                “The Journey Beyond the Waiting”

Well you might say the wait is over. It’s hard to believe that the Advent season arrived so quickly. But we begin the new liturgical year, with a time of waiting. We remember the long wait of the Hebrew people for the Messiah to come. They waited for a shoot from the stump of Jesse to bring forth God’s ultimate reign in the world. They waited fourteen generations according to Matthew’s Gospel. Like much of God’s timing, waiting takes a long time.

For children waiting for anything seems like an eternity, even when it really is only a few minutes or hours. The joy of Christmas morning waits with an agonizing torture of knowing what’s coming, but it still in the future. But waiting is part of living. Waiting on the Lord is a spiritual discipline that strengthens our faith.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a daily devotional that included an excerpt from Pete Wilson’s book, What Keeps You Up at Night. The devotional title, “The Spiritual Benefits of Waiting” described waiting as God’s classroom for character development. While we wait, God refines us and shapes us because we learn to rely on God and God’s timing, when we cannot manipulate the time table. Wilson states,

“Waiting is also a sign of humility. Remember that, long ago, persons of lesser rank who served nobility and royalty were said to “wait upon” them. In a similar way, they were said to “attend” their lords and rulers. Even today, the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending — listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.”         http://www.faithgateway.com/spiritual-benefits-waiting/#.VlS81vmrR1s

Wilson encourages us to actively wait. He notes that it may be easier said than done, but he encourages not just sitting around as     life passes us by, with a sense of hopelessness. Waiting is important spiritual work.  Waiting requires us to hope and trust the long-range plan of God. When faithfully waiting on God, the Lord molds and shapes us into more Christ-likeness. This is spiritual transformation at its best, not because we get what we want, but we accept what God gives us. We learn vital lessons of patiently waiting upon the Lord.

Wilson explains that often we give up way too soon. I quote,  

I prefer to help people see all the possibilities God may be placing before them. I am always hesitant to place time limits on God. The important thing is to continue trusting the end result to God, even when the outcomes you want are not immediately apparent. Remember that faithful waiting — attending — involves much more than passively sticking your hands up in the air until God rains blessings down into your palms. Faithful waiting involves actively seeking contentment, even amid less-than-optimal circumstances.”

As we enter into the season of Advent waiting, we prepare for more than remembering Christ’s entrance into the world. We wait Jesus’ return to earth as a final act of love and grace. We wait for the ultimate gift of unconditional love, when Jesus Christ establishes a new heaven and new earth. We look forward to the second coming. While we wait, questioning what will happen when we move to ½ pastoral services. We wait speculating that it’s a step toward closing the doors. We wait impatiently, wanting answers now.

In the Gospel according to Luke, we see Jesus waiting actively on the way to the cross. He still is preaching and teaching the disciples. He points to the distress in the world: the Roman occupation, the difficult life circumstances. The Israelites huddled, in fear and foreboding at the world events which gave rise to hopelessness and helplessness. He then points to a fig tree with new life, the new kingdom is near. Jesus encouraged the disciples to wait with expectation that a better day was just around the corner. As they trusted in the God’s promises, they were to look beyond the present to God’s future.

The Advent season invites us to move beyond the waiting room.  Jesus invites us to actively wait still participating in the worship and work of this congregation. It’s time for us to be more energetic and enthusiastic about what God is doing in our lives, in our church and in our community. Let’s not be weighed down with worry, but guard our faith with hope. Waiting is God’s way of moving us into a place where our faith will grow and flourish. So while you wait for God’s glory to form you, pray for God to use you for a divine purpose, and serve the Lord expecting a miracle, and nurture you faithfulness. Our journey moves our faith beyond our simple waiting to trusting in the Lord. TGBTG. Amen.

  September 2017  
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