Published 6:05 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Nathan Decker

Waiting turns men into bears and women into cats in a sack.”

– Robert Jordan

The hardest part of living is waiting. I’ve seen parents put a cupcake with a candle in front of toddlers and say, “Wait, I want just a few more pictures.” We don’t like waiting. According to the internet, folks who visit Disney World spend about seven to nine hours of their time waiting in line and three to four hours actually riding rides. Waiting is a part of life. We’ve even got country music songs about waiting on a woman! At best, we are impatient. At worst, we become disinterested, distracted and apathetic. When this happens in our faith it is deadly.

As we prepare for Christmas with the season of Advent, we are waiting … and we don’t like waiting. We can’t wait to open our Christmas gifts. We can’t wait to see the children’s Christmas program. We can’t wait to watch our Hallmark movies. We can’t wait to decorate the tree. We don’t wait for Jesus. Waiting for Jesus?

Advent is not only about waiting for Christ’s birthday. Advent is also a season of expectant waiting for Jesus to return. Paul and the early church were actively waiting. They called it the oviparous. Christ is to return, bring the Kingdom of God fully here. The angel’s song will come true: peace on earth, good will to all. We don’t act as if we are waiting for Jesus anymore.

And I get it. We don’t want to look like those folks who get caught up in the Tim LaHaye novels, staring at the sky, waiting for the rapture. We’ve come a long way from the 1700s when the Methodist classes would ask one another, “Do you fear the wrath to come?” But that doesn’t mean we should stop waiting. The world is still a mess. Jesus is still coming back to clean it up. And we are still the ones who have been entrusted with the message of salvation.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten. That would be easy to do in the hurry of the holiday. I think we’ve gotten bored waiting for Jesus. When we started, folks we excited … there was an urgency. We were passionate about telling people about salvation because any day now Jesus would return and time would run out. Then it seemed like everyone was saved. We entered an era of Christendom. People became Christians simply by drinking the water. Jesus didn’t need to come back because we had already sorted everyone out.

And now … we’re just bored. Jesus, yeah we like him. We might even post a few meme’s about faith, share a few songs that made us emotional. Church, yeah we like worship. As long as it entertains us, doesn’t challenge us too much, and doesn’t cost us our lifestyle. And if nothing else is on our schedule this Sunday, you’ll see us preacher. Haven’t you heard … we’re OK … right?

Jesus described his return through a fig tree with fruit slowly becoming ripe on the vine. I think we all expect it to be some dramatic event when God shows up in our lives. The reality is more mundane. The Kingdom of God inches forward at a slow and steady pace. And only those who are seeking Christ will see it. Only those who are asking questions will see the answers. Only those who are actively waiting will encounter the Divine.

Actively waiting means looking for God in the everyday, looking for signs of Jesus, listening for the spirit. I’m about the most impatient person when it comes to Christmas. My wife will tell you: I buy a gift, wrap it, and expect the person to open it … all in the same day. I don’t like waiting. Being a little impatient … God will forgive us. But becoming disinterested, distracted and apathetic — that’s not the behavior of the people of God. We’re called to wait on the Lord for the miracle of Christmas. When we do, amazing things will happen. Spend more time slowing down this Advent, so you can encounter God. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know that summer is near. So when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time has almost come”

– Jesus in Matthew 24:32-33