A note on the readings. I have chosen the Holy Eucharist readings as found in the Book of Alternative Services(BAS). From time to time throughout the season I have included some of the verses that the Lectionary has left out. This will be particularly true for the places where the Lectionary has left out difficult or unpleasant verses. This will also be less frequent with the Psalms, where the tendency is to edit so they match up more closely with the Old Testament or Gospel readings. I haven’t provided links to the readings, but if you open bible.oremus.org in another browser window you should be able to look the passages up quite quickly.
Readings: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7,16-18; 1Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting is hard. Sure, there are difference among us about what it is we find it hard to wait for, but I think that generally speaking, the more we want something the harder it becomes for us to wait for it. I find buses particularly hard to wait for. If I find that I have an extended period of time between buses, I almost always start walking in the direction I’m headed whether I can get to my destination faster that way or not.
Generally, I’m good at glancing behind to make sure that the bus I’m waiting for doesn’t pass me as I go on my way, but every so often, I forget to check and suddenly I get passed by the bus as I find myself in between stops. In such cases, my impatience with waiting ends up costing me time and in some cases I end up not being able to take part in the activity that I was headed to, because I’m now going to be incredibly late.
Paul, picks up the idea of waiting as he writes to the Corinthians. I’m not going to go into how long or short Paul expected that wait to be, but want to bring to our attention that waiting is part of what the Corinthian church would be expected to do. Paul writes:
“for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Close to 2,000 years later, we are still waiting for this revealing. The adventures of Harold Camping showed us one way in which people have tended to cope with this waiting, as regularly people have come forward wanting to tell us that the wait is over.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians suggest that we have all that we need to have during this waiting period. The spiritual gifts that we have been given through Christ enable us to endure the wait. Or to say it another way, we notice the wait much less when we are focused on the exercise of the spiritual gifts for the benefit of the community. The yearning for the revealing of Christ as the Lord in its fulfillment is not meant to be a dreamy type waiting, but one spent in the active strengthening and building up of our fellow believers.
During Advent we take the time to examine or re-examine our lives so that those things which keep us from a pure relationship with Christ are removed. So that the Church can be the ready Bride that the New Testament speaks of. Yet, it should also be a time when we seek to remove those things that keep us from pure relationships with those in the body that we have been joined with through the gift of new life in Christ.
During the next four weeks, as we wait for the celebration of Christ’s revealing in human form, let us make Advent a time of the exercising the spiritual gifts that we have been given in that same Jesus Christ.