Readings for the day:
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Today we begin a new church year and a new season. We have come to the end of the long green season of Pentecost and we now sit and wait with anticipation to once again hear the story of the Christ child being born. Except we have a hard time waiting for things don’t we? Christmas won’t be here for another 25 days, but most of the Christmas festivities will all take place before December 25th, and by December 26th, Christmas will appear to be gone. Even though Christmas is actually celebrated for 12 straight days beyond December 25th. I think that the 12 days of Christmas has gradually disappeared from our traditions because we have a hard time waiting for things, like Christmas. We become impatient.
I think we all can be impatient at times. For about 8 years of my childhood, our family would travel to the Park Rapids area in northern Minnesota to spend a week at a resort on a lake. We would fish, swim, sit by the campfire, and do more fishing. Most years, this was the highlight of my summer vacation; going and spending a week at the cabin.
It was about a six hour drive to get to the cabin, and so we would usually leave around 8:00 am to get to the resort with enough time to unpack, launch the boat and fish for a couple hours. Since we would leave early on a Saturday morning, we made sure that almost everything was packed and ready to go the night before. I was always pretty excited and anxious to get to the cabin. The six hour drive seemed to never end. But I do remember one year, I was particularly anxious and excited to get to the cabin. I was probably 10 or 11 years old at the time. I don’t remember the reason why, but I was so excited that I just couldn’t fall asleep the night before we left. All I needed to do was close my eyes, fall asleep and when I woke up, we’d be ready to leave. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t fall asleep. I wanted to just leave for the cabin then, at 10:00 at night. I was so excited, I just couldn’t wait to get to the cabin.
Have you ever been this excited about something; been so excited that you can’t sleep even though you’re tired? Maybe it was starting a new job, or going off to school, or the night before your wedding, or maybe the night before your last day of work before a vacation or retirement. We get excited. We get anxious. We get impatient.
We certainly do get this way with the coming of Christmas. But do we get this way with Jesus’ second coming? Probably not a lot. In talking about His coming again, Jesus says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Therefore, we should be excited. We should be anxious. And we should be impatiently waiting for His return. Because our savior has promised us that one day he will return and the world will be renewed, restored.
So what do you do when you have to wait for something? If you’re waiting for Christmas presents, you probably start asking some probing questions, “Is it big or is it small?” “Is it something I can use right away or do I have to wait until it is warmer out?” “Can you tell me what store you got it at?” Or if you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, you probably grab a magazine or pull out your smartphone. When you think about it, we spend a lot of time waiting for things: waiting for a doctor’s appointment, waiting for the light to turn green, waiting for the driver ahead of us to realize that the light has turned green, waiting for a child or grandchild’s practice to get done, waiting for the pastor to finish his sermon. You see, we spend a lot of time each day waiting. And we usually find something to fill the time as we wait.
Jesus tells us what we are to fill our time with as we wait for his return in bodily form. He says that we are to wait in such a way that it would be like our boss, leader or master left on a long trip or vacation and put us in charge so that he didn’t have to micromanage from a distance. And the task that the master gives to you is this: always believe that Jesus will indeed return one day. So put your complete trust in God, not in this world. And you know how you do that? By paying attention to the words that you are saying when we recite the Apostles’ Creed and actually believing in those words. We also stay at the task at hand by acting and talking like Jesus will actually be coming back some day. We’ve heard from scripture that this life is not all there is for us, but do you actually believe it and live your life accordingly?
Jesus, our master, tells us that we need to stick to the task at hand because we do not know the day or the hour of His return. It could be tonight or tomorrow, maybe by the end of the week, or even next year some time. No one truly knows except the Father. Therefore we must be prepared by continually believing that Jesus is coming back. After all, you wouldn’t want the master to return and find you sleeping on the job would you?
Because God’s Word has always proven to be true, we can trust and believe that the master is indeed coming back some day. This is what we have been told and through our baptisms we also have been given this promise – that Jesus will return for us one day. And when Jesus does return and He sees that you are fulfilling the work that he gave you to do (which was to simply believe that He is coming back), God will then say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant of mine. You remained awake and alert. Enter into my glory.” I tell you, Jesus is coming back. When don’t know when, He doesn’t even know when. So we don’t have to waste our time trying to predict that. We simply believe that Jesus is coming back. And He is coming back for you because He died and rose again so that you would be with God. This season of Advent is a reminder of the hope that Jesus will be coming back for you so that you will be with God for eternity. Amen.
© 2014 Anthony Christoffels. Used with permission.
 Mark 13:32, NRSV