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11.25.18 Isaiah 25.6-8, 2 Peter 3.9, 11-15 God’s Thanksgiving Sermon Summary

by on November 26, 2018

Like most people, I don’t like waiting. Still Advent is my favorite season—especially after what I discovered this week.

Waiting is something all of us must do, and we do it our entire lives. As a child I could hardly wait for Christmas, or to drive, or to move out, or to make real money. As adults we may wait for partnership, or maybe having children, or going on vacation. As parents, it’s waiting for kids to drive, or graduation from college, or to have grandchildren, or come for a visit. Later, we’re waiting for retirement, and I know some people who are waiting for death.

A short wait can be exciting as anticipation builds. But a long wait can be just the opposite as we lose hope and experience despair. Most of us are tired of waiting for the end of our war with Afghanistan or a meaningful response to gun violence.

Maybe that’s why we fill up Advent—which means “waiting”—with shopping, parties, activities, and visits—all to avoid facing the reality of waiting. Waiting is part of our human nature. From the very beginning we’ve considered it a curse. Our story of origins presents Adam and Eve, after eating the forbidden fruit, hiding from God. I imagine them waiting for God to come, as was God’s custom “in the cool of the day,” except not in anticipation but in dread. In this sense, waiting is to the future what regret is to the past. Paul says all Creation waits for our redemption. (Romans 8:19) No wonder we avoid it.

But here’s what I learned this week. Waiting is not just human nature, it’s God’s nature as well. Second Peter was written to encourage long-suffering Christians who were tired of waiting and were at risk of abandoning the faith.

Despite some defensive parts including lists of dos and don’ts, and good guys and bad guys, which makes contemporary application a challenge, there is also this insight: God is patient, which means God is waiting. Waiting isn’t just part of being human, it’s part of being divine. And this means that when we wait, we participate in God.

It’s like when we serve others, or when we forgive others, or when we love others. When we are waiting, we are participating in God. So 2 Peter calls us to keep waiting, and to “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” This is how Paul could say that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)

This is why this Advent, this time of waiting, we call you to “come to the mountain of the Lord, to receive instruction and to walk in God’s way.” (Isaiah 2:3) Moses went to the mountain. So did Elijah. Abraham went to the mountain. So did Noah. All went to the mountain and all had to wait there for instruction and guidance.

Jesus, too, went to the mountain. Like the others, he met God there but he also had to wait. Like the others, waiting led to questions, but he regarded the patience of the Lord as salvation. And after a day of darkness and three days of death, he saw God’s salvation. He saw God’s dream described by Isaiah of all people celebrating a thanksgiving feast on the mountain of the Lord. And this is why Jesus gave us the Communion liturgy, as a reminder of that dream. Here Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body, given for you, given for the life of the world.”

“As often as we eat this bread,” Paul taught, “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.” In communion with Christ, let us pray for patience. And in communion with God, let us await salvation.

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