How well do you wait?
I was in a hurry. My shortcut took me through a large department store on my way to the car park in the Buchanan Galleries. This brief sojourn in the temple to retail therapy proved more interesting than expected. By the time I had ducked and dodged my way across the sales floor like a rugby fly-half, I had, on two separate occasions, observed children waiting for their respective mothers. My observations led me to conclude that we can all wait, but not all of us wait well.
One child was patiently waiting at a perfume counter. He was leaning against the counter amusing himself with what looked like a Gameboy, whiling away the time quietly until the ordeal with mother was concluded. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they would be on their way, and, meanwhile, he was content to play his electronic game quietly.
The second child, by contrast, was screaming ‘blue murder’, as they say. He was part of a larger group comprising one adult, possibly mother, and several teenagers. The group, apart from the loud child, were all interested in whatever clothing was displayed nearby. My passing impression (quite literally, I was ‘passing’ - at speed) was that the child with the lost volume control was wishing to be elsewhere, in the ‘Game’ shop to be precise, whilst the rest of the group were urging him to wait until they were finished. As I left the shop, the shouting and screaming continued to be heard, suggesting that no resolution was being achieved.
We can all wait, but not all of us wait well.
At this time of Advent, as we remember and reflect upon our Lord’s incarnation 2,000 years ago, we do well to anticipate His Second advent. As our Lord came all those years ago in fulfilment of divine promise and in answer to the prayers and longings of His faithful people, so He will one day return. He must return in order to implement the conquest and victory won on His first advent (‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’ – John 14:3). There is an essential link between the past achievement of Christ’s mission and its future climax. The final event of the movement of salvation is the return of Christ. We look back upon Christ’s incarnation, His death, resurrection and ascension; the outpouring of the Spirit. Now we look forward to the final event – that of his decisive return in glory. Believers today wait upon His return.
Are we waiting well?
What does it mean for a believer to wait well upon the Lord? What does it mean to wait badly?
We wait badly as believers if we are not waiting at all, or if our waiting leaves no imprint upon our lives. It is even possible for the Lord’s return to be a theological distraction, a hobbyhorse we ride relentlessly, yet has no impact on how we live our lives. If so, we wait badly.
Invariably, in the scriptures the return of our Lord (the parousia) is associated with a moral and ethical urge upon believers to be found ready. Were the Lord to return this day, would he find us ready? Would He find us prayerful and faithful? When our Lord taught in parables, He often urged us to think of His return as an incentive to holy living (e.g Matthew 25 and the parables of the ten virgins, and of the talents) More directly, our Lord spoke of the end of the age, and applied what he said by saying: Mark 13:35-14:1
"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"
As you read this, you will no doubt be involved in making some preparations for Christmas. Those preparations will be many and varied. Some of you will enjoy those preparations, others will engage in them under sufferance, and perhaps others resent the intrusion into daily routine. But few of us escape the necessity of preparations of one sort or another.
There is another form of preparation which is infinitely more important, and ought to extend over all of our lives. Are you prepared for our Lord? Is your life ready for His arrival?
Are you waiting well?
This comes with warmest best wishes for the Christmas period
Your friend and minister