Hope- Advent 1

Reflection from Nov. 26, 2017

What does it mean to hope for Christ’s coming in the future?

Jesus speaks as though there will be a big triumphant coming all at once. But he also says, no one knows. He says these things will happen within the generation, and yet, nothing like that has happened yet.

 

So what does Jesus mean by this coming? What is he trying to get the disciples to do? He says- keep awake- keep alert. Why do we need to keep awake, is it so that we don’t sleep and miss out on God’s coming? That’s kind of like what Jordan was saying (click here to watch the video of Moderator Jordan Cantwell’s Advent message) about being aware of where God is already present in the world. That has a lot to do with hope- knowing that God is with us, always, no matter what.

 

Remember also what Jesus says about keeping awake like the servants in his parable, they keep awake to keep working- each servant has a task that has been assigned by the homeowner, who is away on a journey, but will return. Is that how it feels for us sometimes- that God is absent? That we are all alone. That the work we do is for nothing?

 

Could it be that what Jesus is asking us to do is to keep awake, and not give up hope? To keep working for God’s kingdom, even though it feels sometimes like we are like we are alone- to keep trusting that she is with us.

 

This may not be what we want to hear- because we want what is written in Isaiah- we want God to tear open the heavens and come down with a great show of power and might and fix all our problems.

 

What if what is actually going to happen is more like what is written at the end of that passage: “God is the potter, and we are the clay”?

 

What if instead of big displays of power, God works through molding us into the people that can heal this world?

 

I was thinking recently about the phrase “thoughts and prayers” that gets tossed around a lot after tragedy strikes. And some people have taken to mocking it, saying , nothing ever changes, and that it is an empty phrase. And they have a point- mostly this is around gun violence in the States and criticizing people who send thoughts and prayers, but will not act to change the gun laws.

But prayer does require action on our part. I believe thoughts and prayers are useful and can’t create change. But praying to God doesn’t mean asking God to tear open the heavens and come down, it’s a conversation with God.

 

When we pray, we also invite God to respond back to us, to invite us to do something about what we prayed for, to be guided into the work God has for us, and we need to be open to that.

 

If we pray for ourselves, for change, we need to be prepared to hear how God can guide us to make those changes, if we pray for people we knowing struggling with loss, we need to be prepared to hear God guiding us to be the ones who offer help and comfort, if we pray for people suffering due to injustice, we need to be prepared to hear God guiding us to work to correct that injustice.

This is how we hope as Christians- actively, with hearts open to hear how God will mold us like a potter, how God will equip us, his servants, to fulfill the task that we have been given, so that God’s kingdom can come, on earth as it is in heaven. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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