Summary: A short Advent sermon. God waits patiently for us and welcomes us back into relationship with him. Will you welcome him today?
‘Www dot Christmas’. It’s not the world-wide web; but it is a challenge to the whole wide world to get ‘caught up’ in waiting, wondering and welcoming. This is a challenge 23 days before Christmas Day for all of us – you and me - to get ‘caught up’ in waiting, wondering and welcoming.
Today is the start of advent; a time of waiting and preparation; preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ; remembering that he was born a little over 2000 years ago; and remembering the promise Jesus himself made that at the end of time as we know it He will return to judge the faith and deeds of men and women.
Who has started an Advent calendar or an Advent candle or both? When I was a child the build-up or the wait for Christmas seemed to take so long! Sometimes I was very impatient.
Are you good at waiting patiently? Some of you know I have recently returned from Rwanda, a country smaller than Wales in central Africa. I was away from home for 16 days and after I had been away for only two days I got a message from my wife Moira to say that our 4 year old daughter Rebekah had said, “Daddy’s been gone a long time!” She was finding it hard to wait for me to come home.
When it comes to waiting patiently God is not like us. Jesus appointed his friend Peter to look after the early Church and Peter records this in the Bible: “Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord [God] a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord [God] is not slow in keeping his promise, as some [people] understand slowness. [In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost]” (2 Peter 3:8-9 from the NIV and the CEV). Like a perfect father of a rebellious child God waits patiently for us to return!
To help people understand what God is like Jesus told a story of a young man who left home with his inheritance – with some of his father’s money. He wasted it foolishly and was left with absolutely nothing. At that moment he realised he must return to his father to say sorry for his wrongdoing – to say sorry for his sin. “So he got up and went to his father; but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
God waits patiently for us to return to Him; and if you’re wondering what happened next in the story Jesus told: “The son said, ‘Father I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.’ But his father said, ‘Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet’” (Luke 15:21-22).
The father said, “This son of mine was lost but has now been found” and they began to celebrate (15:24).
If you are wondering how God will treat you when you return to him, that is exactly how God will treat you too. He is waiting to welcome each one of us back into a relationship with him, our heavenly father. The question is how long will you wait to receive the welcome that God has for you? Will you welcome the Lord Jesus Christ to be the centre of your life, your family, your home and your very existence today, this Christmas and always? He is waiting patiently to welcome you.