Summary: It is hard to wait - so how can we wait for the coming of our Lord?
“Questions of Christmas: How Can I Wait So Long?”
Is. 61:1-3; Luke 1:39-56
Waiting is hard. Young children see gifts under the tree and beg to open ‘just one’ early. When told “No, you need to wait!” they respond “I can’t wait that long!” A person with great pain is told by the doctor’s office, “He can see you in a month.” She responds, “I can’t wait that long!” Parents get word that their son, who lives across the country, has been involved in an accident and is in serious condition. They call the airlines and are told the earliest flight available is the next morning. They plead, “We can’t wait that long!” Waiting is hard.
Advent is a time of waiting. So this morning we consider THE MATTER OF WAITING. We’ve all had times when we’ve blurted out, “I can’t wait that long!” WE DO NOT LIKE TO WAIT. Preacher and author Calvin Miller wrote that he had been preaching on the second coming of Jesus and was trying to say how most of us would like to adjust the timing just a bit. We want Jesus to come…but after the kids graduate, we get our first royalty check, or something else. To illustrate he told about his daughter Melanie’s reaction to his rule that she could not date until she was 16. At 15 and ¾ years of age a boy asked her to go to the Christmas Prom. When Calvin stood firm she became incensed and said, “Dad, I just hope the Lord comes back between now and February so you have to live with yourself all through eternity knowing that I never had a date!” Waiting is hard; we don’t like to wait.
Waiting is especially hard if we hurry up for something and then have to wait. You hurry to the airport to get there in ample time to go through security – and then sit hours at the gate – waiting to board your flight. A wife begins experiencing labor pains so the couple rushes to the hospital – and waits, for hours, for the baby to arrive. You hurry to make it to the doctor’s office on time for your test – and you wait, and wait, and wait. You learn about something exciting so immediately text your friends – then wait for what seems like an eternity for them to respond. You order that cherished item via the internet and your anxiety increases each day it does not arrive; you convince yourself you just cannot wait. You pray for something to happen, and it doesn’t; so you pray again, and again, and again. You share Jesus Christ with a lost friend and she doesn’t respond; you’re frustrated because you so long to see her come to Jesus. It’s hard to wait; we don’t like to wait.
GOD’S PEOPLE ARE OFTEN CALLED TO WAIT. Remember when Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to meet with God? Because he didn’t return quickly the people rebelled and made a golden calf. They found it hard to wait for God to work out His purpose; and they didn’t like waiting. Luke, in his Gospel, lets us know that Mary knew about hurrying and waiting as well. Our passage has what I call bookend verses (39 & 56): We’ve already been told that God broke into Elizabeth and Mary’s lives with the promise of miracle babies. Then we read “…Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea...Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” The surrounding scenes are filled with waiting. On one hand two women wait for the birth of their very special babies. On the other hand, all of creation is waiting. Both the women and the world are waiting for the purposes, plans, and promises of God to be worked out – which is precisely where we are this morning. We are waiting for Jesus to return, for God to work all things out.
In fact, GOD IS OUR MODEL OF WAITING. The Bible repeatedly shows GOD IS PATIENT, LONG-SUFFERING, AND FAITHFUL. From Genesis with it’s “He shall crush his head” to Revelation with its “new heaven and a new earth,” God waits. He waited for Abraham to arrive at his appointed place. He waited while Noah built the ark. He waited for an entire generation of Israelites to die off in the wilderness so the next generation could enter the Promised Land. God waited 400 years from the time of Malachi, at the end of the Old Testament, to the birth of Jesus. He waited nine months for the birth of His Son. He waited 33 years for the cross. He waited three more days for the victory to be complete.
The Apostle Peter wrote that EVEN NOW GOD IS WAITING. He was writing to a people who were wondering when Jesus was returning; since they were undergoing persecution they were wondering “How can I wait so long?” So Peter said (2 Pt. 3:8-9 GNT): “But do not forget one thing, my dear friends! There is no difference in the Lord's sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same. The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you…” Eyvind Skeie, in a little story about death and hope called “Summerland” wrote, “But I cannot say anything about the light unless I first tell you about the One Who Is Waiting. That is what I call Him, the One Who Is Waiting. I know it is a strange name but I am quite sure He likes this name better than any other. For that is exactly what He does, He is waiting – always.”