Summary: An advent sermon about the Day of the Lord, waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The call to be faithful witnesses while we wait for God’s consummate action.
The Reformed Church of Locust Valley
Advent II December 8, 2002
Is. 40:1-11, 2 Peter 3:8-15a
“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord
one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness,
but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that nay should perish, but that all should reach repentance.…”
- II Peter 3:8,9
I don’t know how I feel about the Christmas Lexus commercials. Have you seen them? In a series of vignettes, a key to a new Lexus is given to a very surprised and very pleased wife or husband. IN one instance, the husband has the family dog take the ribbon holding the keys to his wife. In another, the husband and wife are decorating the tree, with the man handing his wife the ornaments who then hangs them on the tree. After handing her ornament after ornament, he hands her keys to a new Lexus. I don’t know how I feel about these commercials. To be honest, I love the expressions of delight and glee and surprise on the faces of the women. But part of me says, “Isn’t there something more to the Christmas spirit than tens of thousands of dollars of automobile?
I would much rather see the look of surprise on the face of a gangly adolescent opening a gift from our church through the Christmas angel project. It seems to me that something more of value in that than another expensive gift to another home that already has way more than they need. It seems to me that that is somehow closer to what Christmas is all about.
We need a better sense that we are temporary.
You know what it’s like to be somewhere temporary. Have you ever sat in a waiting room at the auto repair shop? The nicest ones in the nicest dealerships still have a faint scent of oil. And no matter how hard those guys try, they just can’t seem to get the bathrooms clean enough and to keep the coffee area just right. When you are there, waiting for some project to be completed on your car, vaguely worried over what it will cost, you know you are somewhere temporary. You have to be here right now, but you won’t be here forever, though it can seem like forever!
How about in the hospital? Once you get admitted to the hospital, what is your primary goal? Getting out of the hospital! Being poked, prodded, having the last vestige of human dignity stripped from you, the incessant noise, even at three in the morning. The being woken up for an IV flush and then being told to get some rest. You are there, and know it’s temporary and say, “Thank God!”
We are here temporarily too.
If somehow, we could go back in time and be in this church 75 years ago, you would know no one here. This feels like your church right now, but there was a time when people worshiped here before you and there will be a time when we will be gone, and a whole group of people unknown to us, perhaps unborn will worship here.
But we forget that.
Maybe we forget that because we are afraid of it. We are mortal. This past week the whole east coast was lashed with a snowstorm. It claimed at least 26 lives. We can’t be sure about tomorrow. Something might snatch our health, or our wealth or our very lives.
There are no guarantees.
What does the future hold?
How should we move into the future? Afraid, or with confidence?
Waiting is not all always bad. While no healthy person wants to be waiting for a car repair or to get out of the hospital, some waiting is good. In fact, some is exquisite.
Last week’s Newsweek magazine hailed the trend among young people to wait to have sex. I think everyone will agree it’s worth waiting for! The Biblical view of sex is the total union of two human beings. So intimate is the sexual relationship in the Bible that the euphemism, the word used for it is “to know.” More young people are saving that closest, most intimate of all human relationships until the moment when it can be shared in the bonds of marriage. That is a good waiting.
The student working hard to achieve success in school knows what good waiting is. Step by step, week by week, learning more and more to arrive at mastery of the subject.
A young family, denying themselves immediate pleasures to put a decent amount of money aside each payday to save for the down payment for a house of their own to raise a family. That is a good waiting.