Advent is . . .

Advent is. . . December 16, 2012

Luke 7:18-28

We say that the season of  Advent is a season of waiting. We try to persuade ourselves that if we just say  that often enough, it will become true. Advent is a season of waiting. Advent is  a season of waiting.

But it’s not. Advent is a  season of impatience. Sure, there are other times throughout the year when we  experience impatience. But this season, the time between Thanksgiving and  Christmas, this season is the climax of impatience, when all our anxiety and  hurry and worry are concentrated into four short weeks.

We are busy preparing, each  of us in our individual way, for something special to happen to us. Is this the  right gift, or shall we seek another? Is this the right way for me to serve the  poor, or shall I seek another? Is this the party I was waiting for, or is it  another one? Is this the moment with my family that I was waiting for, or was I  waiting for something else?

The horrible possibility lies  in the back of our mind that our expectation will indeed go unfulfilled – that  what we are waiting for will never happen – we may find ourselves just like John  the Baptist, waiting in prison. Yes, John the Baptist. John the Baptist is back  today, speaking differently than he did last week.

In last week’s gospel lesson,  he burst on the scene with fire and vengeance, full of confidence and certainty.  He announced the coming of Jesus with great hope and expectation. He gave us a  fairly accurate model for Advent, full of energy, like children decorating  the Christmas tree!

But, today, he represents  Advent in another way, in a way that is just as authentic as last week’s style.  But he is tired. He is discouraged. He questions. John the Baptist is like us.  He jumps to hope with power and aggressiveness. But, later, he has questions; he  even has doubts.

Listen to John the Baptist  later in his ministry. He thought he knew Jesus. After all, he supposedly  baptized him in the River Jordan. He was eager and energetic just last week.  But, then, time went by. Things got harder for John. In today’s passage, Jesus has begun his ministry, and John  has been cast into prison by Herod the Great. He begins to have his doubts. Is  Jesus really the one he was looking for?

What happened to the vivid  forecasts of John the Baptist-that Jesus would chop down fruitless trees and  throw chaff into the fire? Has Jesus spent his ministry throwing chaff into the  fire? No, it seems not. And so John sends several of his own people, his own  disciples, to ask the emotional question, “Are you the one who is to come, or  shall we wait for another?” John has devoted his entire ministry, even gives his  very life, to preparing the way for Jesus Christ, but John does not even  recognize Jesus when he comes.

John the Baptist is a prophet  because he shows us so clearly what happens to our narrow expectations. Jesus  Christ came for John the Baptist, but Jesus came in a way that John did not  expect.

At least John had sense  enough to ask the right question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we  look for another?”

Because that is the Advent  question: “Are you the one I’ve been waiting for, or shall I wait for another?”  Is this the present I’ve been waiting for? Is this the party, is this the family  reunion, is this the date I’ve been waiting for? Is this the job I really  wanted? Is this really the house we wanted so desperately two years ago? Is this  really the person I loved four years ago? Is this really the person I love  now?

We will find a precious gift,  the gift of Christ; we will find reconciliation and peace-when we have eyes to  see beyond our expectations-if we look around us and notice new places where  Jesus is working. “Go and tell John what you see and hear,” said Jesus. “The  blind receive their sight, and the lame walk. The dead are raised up, and the  poor have good news preached to them.”

Jesus Christ did not come to  those people who had the details of his arrival all worked out. He came to the  blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the poor, the dead. He came to the  downtrodden. He came in humility for the humble. He came for those who did not  have it all worked out for themselves. He came for those who knew they needed  Him.

There are millions of letters  that get sent to the North Pole describing exactly what would cause children to  rejoice, and yet there comes a moment when we know the children have grown up.  It happens when they stop making Christmas lists for themselves. Remember how  long and delicious those lists used to be?

Some of us have grown up only  recently. We have the house we always wanted. We have the job security we  wanted. We have that spouse, that husband or wife, who is the answer to all our  dreams. We even have the car we wanted. But is that all there is? Is this what  we were waiting for?

Listen to what Jesus told  John’s disciples when they asked that question. Jesus said, “When you get me,  the lame walk, the blind receive their sight, the dead are raised, the poor get  good news.” What did all that mean? It meant that John’s disciples, who had  already repented and turned around once, were going to have to repent and turn  around again.

It meant that Jesus comes to  reverse things. What was dead is now raised. What was blind now sees. What was  lame now walks. When we get the gift of Jesus, our lives are changed. The sign  that Jesus has come is that people are changed.

Do we really want the gift of  Christ this year? We will recognize the gift of love and peace when we recognize  that people have changed. We will recognize the gift of love and peace when we  recognize that we must change, too. The spiritual word for that change is  repentance, to turn around.

No matter how young or old we  are, whether we are waiting to receive that perfect bicycle, waiting to receive  that special answer from our loved one, waiting for that special moment of  reconciliation with our children or with our parents, we are also waiting  ultimately for the Christ, the Savior.

Christ the Savior will change  us. Christ the Savior will turn us around. Even if we’ve changed before, even if  we have repented before, Christ the Savior will raise the dead again. Christ the  Savior is born.

AMEN.

A  Message brought to you by  Grace  Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact  Pastor Kenneth Taglauer email: [email protected].  A Pass it On  Project

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