Advent Day 10
Psalm 26 · Isaiah 5:13-17, 24-25
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
25 Beloved, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27 I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “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, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 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.”
37 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. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Today’s meditation calls us to the task of active waiting – not anxious, apathetic, or absent-minded – but active waiting. This paradox captures the essence of our faith. We are called neither to be escapists anxiously waiting for heaven, nor materialists concerned only with worldly pursuits.
To understand this calling, we must first answer the question of what. What are we waiting for? The restoration of creation by the full reign of God’s kingdom. Throughout the book of Luke, Jesus demonstrates that “the kingdom of God” is coming to earth. As he heals, liberates, and proclaims the good news, particularly to the poor and marginalized, evidence of God’s kingdom can be seen. Yet, according to today’s reading from Luke, the kingdom of God has not yet fully come. Jesus indicates that it will be ushered in by the coming of the Son of Man, a title from Daniel 7 for the Messiah, “whose words will not pass away.” With the second coming of our King, the kingdom will bring justice and will restore the broken-hearted.
With the knowledge of what we are waiting for, we must ask ourselves, how are we to wait? The passage from Luke instructs us to wait as those who have hope. The signs that Jesus mentioned just prior to this passage involve destruction and pestilence. This is the backdrop for verse 34. Rather than being disheartened, “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life,” we are called to guard our hearts by anticipating the great reversal that is to come.
Our second passage, from 1 Thessalonians, provides an overview of the concrete ways of living that we are called to. From this text, it is clear that we are not called to wait alone, where we would be vulnerable to anxiety and isolation. Instead, let us wait in community, actively encouraging, helping, and demonstrating patience to each other.
As we remember our Lord’s first coming and anticipate his second, let us partner with him to advance God’s kingdom through our care for one another and love for the strangers, outsiders, and disheartened in the world around us.
Spend a few moments in silence, asking God to help you imagine what it looks like for you to actively wait for the full coming of his kingdom. What might you change about the way you live in community, interact with those who have lost their hope, organize your finances, etc.?
Pray the Collect for Peace:
O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.