Waiting With Hope

On December 4, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Waiting With Hope Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Advent 1, 2017 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Great old Hymn of faith: “When I was just a little girl I […]

Waiting With Hope
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Advent 1, 2017

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Great old Hymn of faith: “When I was just a little girl I asked my mother what will I be…will I be pretty, will I be rich? Here’s what she said to me – Que sera sera, whatever will be will be; the future’s not ours to see, Que sera sera.”

No one really knows what the future holds. Trends can show us what is likely to happen, and we’ve all made lucky guesses now and then. But, mostly, the future is always unfolding and is not predetermined.

Jesus says in today’s gospel that situations change. What seemed permanent can pass away. But he also says that his words will last. Words of hope seem to linger – or at least the hope itself lingers. The gospel, the good news, is a message of hope.

Advent is a time for waiting – waiting for xmas, certainly. Some see it as a time of waiting for the return of Jesus. But Jesus said he would always be with us (Lo, I am with you always). How does one return if one never left?

Jesus is with us in our stories, in our rituals, in our imaginations. We give body to his memory as the Church, the body of Christ. And, the light that people saw in Jesus is also in us. So, for Christians, Christ is always present.

I’m not waiting for Jesus – I’m waiting for christianity to re-embrace Jesus. Not as an idol, not a golden calf (we’ve gotten that down all too well). I’m waiting for christians en masse to re-embrace Jesus’ values, his compassion, his desire for justice, his desire for all people to be fed, for all who are ill to be healed, for all who are lonely to be loved, for all who are afraid to be encouraged, for all who hurt to be comforted.

A religion about Jesus doesn’t honor Jesus, rather it tends to distort his powerful message.
We don’t need a religion about Jesus, we need the religion OF Jesus…which is a living and world engaged spirituality that works and waits for the kin-dom of God to be made manifest…that’s what we so desperately need.

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news he proclaimed about God’s kin-dom where the first are last and the last are first,
where the so-called least of these are remembered and blessed,
where hunger is not acceptable,
where untreated illness is unthinkable,
where refugees are seen as God’s children in need of welcome and concern…when that Gospel is remembered and reclaimed and put into action, then the Christ Nature will have returned and will dwell among us and within us. For that, I am still waiting.

I’m tired of discrimination being uplifted as a virtue.
I’m tired of refugees fleeing war and famine only to be rejected when they arrive at new shores.
I’m tired of needing to remind people that women are in charge of women’s bodies.
I’m tired of the poor and the sick and the elderly being abandoned.
And I’m damned angry when these atrocities are committed in the name of Jesus.

So I am waiting not for Jesus to start getting his mail here on planet earth…I’m waiting for those who claim to be his church to care about all the children of God.

Theologian G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it’s been found difficult and left untried.”

It’s so much easier to sing, “O how I love Jesus” than it is to fight for the dignity of senior citizens, to affirm the sacred value of LGBTQ people, to work for peace, and to demand that our national and global resources be used to stamp out hunger and disease. It’s easy to love Jesus, it’s harder to love ourselves and our neighbors. And so we have settled for venerating Jesus rather than following him. Jesus didn’t say, “If you love me blow smoke up my skirt.” He said, “If you love me feed my sheep.”

The world waits for us to follow Jesus’ example of feeding, healing, and welcoming those in need.

But we dare not give up hope. Hope is what sustains us while we wait. Hope is how we handle an unknown future. Hope doesn’t always grant our wishes, but it keeps us going in the difficult times…and sometimes, our wishes do finally come true.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “There is a vision…if it seems to tarry, wait for it, it will surely come…”
Religion may have fallen asleep at the switch.
Democracy may have gotten a bit lazy.
Injustice and tyranny may seem to get the upper hand now and then, but there is a vision of God’s kin-dom, and if it continues to tarry we will insist that it is on its way and we will do what we can to make room for it.

We may not know how or when Christ’s vision for God’s kin-dom will come to pass but if we won’t give up, we can know that something good is on the way. It may take work, it may take time, but “there is good for us and we ought to have it.“
”All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
”Weeping may endure for a night but show comes in the morning.“
”We will be repaid for the years the locusts have eaten.”
A temporarily homeless, unwed mother can give birth in a stable and her family can become refugees in Egypt and her baby can still grow up to change lives for 2 millennia and counting.

Don’t give up. Don’t give up the vision. Don’t give up the hope that makes not giving up possible. Something good is on the way…somehow, some day…and so we wait with hope. This is the good news. Amen.

I am hopeful.
Hope may not be a guarantee…
But it sustains me in uncertain times.
When blessings are delayed, I will wait with hope.
Amen.

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