Keep Waiting, Keep Hoping, Keep Watch

by Reverend Amanda

This is the first year that Madeleine is really able to understand the hype all around the Christmas season. She keeps asking when Santa is coming and when will we put up the Christmas tree and when people will put out their lights. These conversations started on Halloween. I look forward to telling her the Christmas story as we set up our nativity set. Now as adults this same excitement and hope seems to drift away with the years. Isaiah and Christ urge us not to become jaded, not to let go of this innocent hope. We need to cling to that hope and never let it fade.

You see in Israel, when Isaiah was writing, the people of Israel were in exile scattered throughout the Babylonian Empire. The Israelites ended up there because they lacked humility in their national life and elevated themselves as idols over God. God came through and gave strength to the hand of Babylon and in the fury of God they won. God punished the people and they suffered for many generations. Here Isaiah is praying to the Holy in humility and praise. Isaiah speaks of the glories of God that past generations saw. He longs to know of this glory; of this power; of the mercy and love of the Lord. He goes so far as to recognize the sins of generations past and reminds God that the people have been purged of their sinful ways and look only for the glory and mercy of God. They looked with hope for the forgiveness of God which promised to elevate them out of their time of despair and back into the light of God’s ways.

We too are called to wait expectantly for the wonders of the Lord to lift us out of the despair that life sometimes settles in. We are called to wait with excitement and humility placing ourselves upon the altars of God pleading with God to send us salvation; to send us a savior from the ways of the world. We should wait with the same alertness of a child of Christmas Eve as they keep vigil for Santa. We should wait with all of our senses alerted to the changes in our world as we await our Savior’s return.

Just as Isaiah and his people waited in eagerness for the salvation of the promised Messiah, so too, in our world we await a salvation from the troubles that we have experienced. In this world there is so much illness and violence. Families are torn apart by economic struggles, death, illness, and violence. Our world needs hope. The hope of the Christ child is one that can heal wounds and cross boundaries. This hope can bring understanding and peace. With hope, the tensions of this world can be eased and people do not have to live their lives in chaos.

On December 24, 1914, the world was torn apart by war. Allied forces were entrenched against the Germans. Worldwide war just seemed to continue with no end in sight. The two side’s hatred was something to live in fear of. Yet, on Christmas Eve they shared the hope of peace. They recognized the humanity of one another and called for a cease fire on the holiday. They shared in song and celebration of the birth of Christ. This is the hope that is needed in our world today. This is the hope that is needed in many of the lives of families throughout the world. They need to feel the warmth of the Christ Child in their daily experiences. They need to feel that hope alive in their hearts moving them forward in the light of Christ, though chaos surges around them. They need to feel hope that the Christ child is coming to lead them to salvation.

We all need to sit poised and ready with that hope keeping us in a constant state of readiness. We need to be ready to welcome Christ into our hearts, into our souls, and into our homes. Remember what our scriptures said this morning, “For you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at the cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake”.[1]

We need to be ready because Christ is coming to our world. He will come as suddenly as he came the first time. Let’s not be the ones who have fallen asleep. The ones cut off from the Holy because we have put our personal glory and vices before the ways and glory of God. Bob Marley reminded the world with his music that, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So, when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”[2]

There are many within our world who have fallen asleep to the coming of the savior. It is our mission not only in Advent but throughout the year to remind the world of the love, compassion, and hope offered to all through Christ. It is our mission to live the life Christ has called us to live so that when the time comes, our world will not be found asleep. We need to ask ourselves this advent: “What do we have to offer to our savior when he comes again? Or when he comes will he go unnoticed just he was the first time he entered this world?”

We have the power and ability to bring hope to life again in the lives of those around us. We have the ability to refocus our attention on what really matters in life. We just need to believe in the power of the Holy. We need to believe that Christ will come to lead us out of the distractions and problems of this world and into the glory of a new world. With this type of hope, we can do anything. We are to share this hope throughout the world through our work and our interactions. We need to help others to keep awake and watch; to keep living in hope. Christ will be coming to take us all home. So, this week let’s ponder the question: “Will we be asleep when Christ knocks on our door or will we be awake and ready”?

[1] Mark 13: 35-37, NRSV.

[2] Bob Marley, 20th century musician.