This Sunday begins the new church year. We are entering year B which leans heavily on Mark for the gospel readings.
Our church year in the United States ends with Thanksgiving (Christ the King if we are only considering Sundays) and begins Advent on the following Sunday as we wait and prepare for the revealing (liturgical and final) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The appointed lesson for this Sunday is particularly appropriate balancing thankfulness and eager anticipation well.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul opens this letter to the church at Corinth as he does all his letters with a word of grace and a word of peace.
Would that all of us always greet one another seeking grace and peace.
Paul offers an encouraging word reminding those reading the letter (including us) that we have spiritual gifts to equip us for the in-between time. God is the one who gives us strength—we need not muster it from within. We are blameless on the day of Christ Jesus because the cross has obliterated the accusation. We are called into fellowship with Jesus.
So, what shall we do while we wait for Jesus to come again in the manger at Christmas time? What shall we do while we wait for Jesus to come again at the end of all time to answer all the promises made to us with a spectacular “Yes and Amen!”?
There was a book that came out a long time ago called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain which suggested drawing something like a chair by drawing the spaces it defines. You draw what the chair is not and what the chair is emerges.
Perhaps we can try waiting for Jesus to come again on the right side of the brain:
- Waiting for Jesus should not be squandering or burying spiritual gifts given to us.
- Waiting for Jesus should not be thriving on conflict with others (within or outside) of the church. Conflicts may happen but they should be en route to peace.
- Waiting for Jesus should not forgo offering grace to one another.
- Waiting for Jesus should not depend on our own strength or stamina or ingenuity.
- Waiting for Jesus should not be an exercise of self-loathing as we dwell on how far we think we have missed the mark. We are blameless through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice.
As we ponder these gaps that do not reveal faithful waiting in Advent and for the end of all time perhaps what that waiting should look like will emerge. It may look a little different for each of us. Thanks be to God.
God, give us gracious and peaceful patience as we rest in the truth that you are faithful to your promises even when we are not. Help us wait well and invite others to join in the process of trusting your faithfulness. Amen.