In this instant, just-in-time world, delay is a modern sin. Waiting times and waiting lists have become a part of our daily conversation. If you happen to be one of the 142,000 people waiting to be admitted to hospital in Scotland, then waiting is much more than idle chit-chat.
This Sunday, 27th November, Advent 2022 begins. Advent is a season of waiting, a time that tells us that the whole of Christian life is lived in hopeful expectation. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says:
“Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.”
Advent reminds us that we await our coming King. We wait for a world where righteousness dwells, whilst living in a world where injustice and evil run riot. Advent tells us that waiting begins in the darkness, in faith believing that in Christ a new world is dawning.
This week in John 16 we meet the disciples waiting in the darkness as Jesus prepares them for an even deeper dark. He has forewarned them that the light of his presence will be extinguished. Within hours his death on the cross will plunge the world into the shadow of death and they will be overtaken by grief. Yet, redemption will be forged in this dark, in the waiting and the silence.
So, Jesus summons his disciples to stubborn hope.
John 16:16 “In a little while
you will no longer see me,
and then a short time later
you will see me again.”
Advent prompts us to live in the light of the coming king. It calls us not to passive resignation, but to active anticipation. Waiting can seem like an excuse for sleepy, lazy Christianity, yet waiting on the Lord is far from passive.
To wait means to persist in hope and act in faith, believing that he will complete entirely what he has promised: So, watch and wait, pray and wait, get busy and wait!
To wait means to bring our lives into alignment with the coming king and kingdom and to display in word, deed and attitude that we belong to the One who is coming.
Some time ago a woman in QP was called by God to go to Albania. There was just one problem. Albania was closed to all foreigners and especially to Christians. So, what did she do? She prepared herself for what was coming, she lived her life in the light of what God had promised her. She learned the language of Albania, and she informed herself of the customs and history of Albania. She lived in Glasgow as someone whose home was to be in Albania. And finally, Albania opened up and off she went!
Jesus prepares his disciples in this “upper room discourse “in John to live between the cross and the coming kingdom. To live lives that are a sneak peek of what is to come, that are shaped by where we are going and speak the language of his coming kingdom. Of course, we need help to live kingdom lives now, and so he promises the Holy Spirit will come alongside us to “constitute” in our lives what Jesus has “instituted” on the cross. The Spirit comes to make us what we are in Christ, to lead us into the truth of what God has done and to make us worshippers who glorify and make his name known. To activate what Christ has achieved.
Sadly, it’s all too easy to overlook the vast resources that we have in Christ and which the Spirit has been deployed to make available to us.
Evangelist Billy Graham reflecting on his international awareness of the church said
“Everywhere I go I find that God’s people lack something. They are hungry for something. The most desperate need today is that men and women who profess Jesus be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
So join with me in praying:
“Come Holy Spirit “take what is from Jesus and communicate it to us” John 16:14