Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27
Matthew 9:27-31

REFLECTION: “Patience, people...”
Try telling a child under the age of 10 that they have to wait for something. Go ahead. Just try it. For the first minute or two, you might be able to pass by without further discussion of the topic at hand. But within the five minute mark, chances are you have already had a repeated conversation about the need for, well, patience.

Imagine, then, being in the position of the Israelites. Over and over again their nation experiences the undulating waves of triumph and fall, of conquering, and of being the conquerer, of holiness and of debasement. All the while, people in the land - especially in the difficult times - are crying out, "How long?"

Our first reading today, from Isaiah's prophecy, opens with the words "Soon - and it will not be very long". I can just imagine an Israelite, say one or two hundred years after Isaiah's death laughing. Clearly, Isaiah's definition of 'soon', or, to be more precise, God's definition of 'soon', bears little relationship to that individual's point of view; much as a child's view of soon bears little relationship to a parent's, especially on a long car ride, or when carefully wrapped gifts await a celebration that is hours or days away.

Our Psalm response today gives us that most difficult command, "Wait patiently for the Lord". We desire his presence, we seek his peace. We look around us at a world that is deeply wounded by sin. It tears us apart. Yes, there are joys, there are distractions, but only a fool fails to recognize that this world is not what it could have been... and that only God's presence can restore it. Patience? I want God to restore and renew this world... NOW!

And yet, God is working, restoring, renewing... he is touching the lives of individuals, of you, and of me, and of countless people around the world each and every day. It isn't the final renewal, the New Heaven and New Earth promised to us in Scripture. It isn't eternal bliss and joy, but, in our fellowship with one another, in our communion with God in Scripture and Sacrament, and in our day to day lives we are offered a foretaste of the Divine Feast.

Perhaps, we might view this as God's way of showing us mercy and love in the midst of our pain and brokenness. The two blind men of our Gospel reading today received healing, but even that healing, that amazing relief, was still not the new life and renewal promised in the Messiah's coming.

We, the people of God, look forward not merely to the recovery of sight for the blind... or the many other marks by which Messiah was to be known. We look for the renewal and restoration of all things. It will come, rest assured... but until that time, "Patience, people.... till the Lord is come."

Oh, and by the way, in the sixth chapter of Revelation, we read: "When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long...'" So, rest assured... annoying as it may be to human parents, it's OK for us to join our voices with those of all the faithful of every time and place in crying out to our heavenly Father, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

What situations or circumstances has God used to teach me patience in life?