This year, as you know, I felt led to use 1 and 2 Thessalonians as my focus for the 25 posts leading to Christmas Day. It may not seem like the normal Advent passages, but Paul was addressing the Church in Thessalonica about how to live while waiting for the return of Christ.
So actually those are the perfect verses for us to focus on since Advent is not only remembering the coming of the Messiah as the baby born in a manger, but also to look with anticipation and hope for His Second Coming.
The first week of Advent is about “HOPE” and as I was reading in several different study Bibles this week, I found some wonderful and encouraging words about hope and waiting.
First is this offering from The New Spirit Filled Life Bible, edited by Jack Hayford:
Hope; elpis: Strong’s #1680: Hope, not in the sense of an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking without any foundation, but in the sense of confident expectation based on solid certainty.The New Spirit Filled Life Bible, edited by Jack Hayford, Thomas Nelson Bibles, 2002
He goes on to say that our hope for the return of Christ is based on the solid foundation of prophecies spoken throughout Scripture, and the promise of Christ Himself that He would return. There are numerous resources to back up the weight of this. It is not wishful thinking or a fairy tale.
The prophecies of Scripture are backed up with actual events that solidly confirm God will accomplish His complete plan. Our hope is grounded and founded and we hold to it by faith. We look with Hope to the Return of Christ and for all things to be made new and right. We look for justice and mercy and for a new heaven and a new earth.
So we wait for that.
Which brings me to our second quote, this one from Eugene Peterson in his study bible:
Waiting is an activity with impressive documentation throughout Scripture, yet it’s astonishingly ignored in most constructs of how to live the Christian life. Waiting is not a passive occupation but an active and hopeful orientation toward the activity of God for which there is no present evidence. Refusal to wait is a refusal to trust.Eugene Peterson, The Message Study Bible, NavPress 2007, 2012
I had some waiting to do this past week.
My desktop computer, which holds the archive of both many words typed and many memories captured in photos, was on its last leg. It would shut down randomly and often as I was working, the dreaded spinning color wheel would appear and remain for far too long forcing me to eventually turn it off and try to start up again.
My #1 supporter and financial benefactor for low these nearly 40 years said we needed to get me a new one and took me off to Best Buy last week to purchase a new one. With our current restrictions, we had to make an appointment to bring the old and new in to the Geek Squad to make the transfer.
As I was attempting to close down all the open tabs, it would freeze and close out repeatedly. I knew I needed to get things in shape to take it in and I sat in front of this piece of technology that I will never understand and felt so helpless. I spread open my hands and expressed to God my need for His help, my need for the techy types to be able to make it work and finally I was able to close things out and sign off.
We took it in and handed it over one night. The fellow behind the counter said unless they could get it to stay active, the transfer would not happen. Once again, I felt so helpless. Even the experts might not be able to work the magic needed. So I asked a few close friends to pray, for the computer and for me.
In the days following, there were times when I let myself think what would happen if every word and picture was lost. Once again I would spread out my hands and release the possibility to God. I knew Russ and my team were praying when they thought of it and I was forced to trust God for the outcome. Whatever it looked like. I would trust Him.
The day I was to pick it up I got a call saying the transfer had failed. They were going to clear everything off and try again. Back to my knees, back to my hands spread wide; I fought the tears and fears of the loss of my journey logged on those megabytes of data. And I chose to trust.
Yesterday they called to let me know it was successfully completed. I cried again and let my prayer warriors know. Our Rachel responded:
“You looked to Him.
And we claimed He would hear our requests.”Rachel Maxwell, who I hope to be like when I grow up <3
My friends, Advent is about a waiting that supersedes all the other waitings of our deepest longings.
An end to Covid
The birth of a child after so many losses
The cards we ordered and need to get in the mail
The salvation of one who seems lost
The last piece of a project that will end many days of hard work
Our little ones to internalize the good behavior and kindness we are teaching daily
An end to injustices
We are waiting for all kinds of things, big and small.
But Paul was talking about the idea of waiting for the Return of Christ. To the early Church, this was a reality that at first blush was intense…but as the years passed, began to lose its fervency. They got comfortable in their Christianity and forgot the point of it all.
I have to confess, it is usually during Advent that I am more likely to think about and anticipate Christ’s Return. The rest of the year I spend most of my time waiting for insignificant things like websites to load on my computer, a coffee at the drive through or any number of things that I want to have happen right now but have got wait for.
In chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians, Paul brags on the Church of Thessalonica because others were talking about how they were faithful. How they had deserted their idols and were now embracing and serving God. He talks about the marveling at their expectation in the hope of His Return.
I want to be like that.
I want to spread out my hands and admit that I have no idea how it will happen, but I am waiting in expectation that it will.
How about you?
How about if this Advent season we spend time pondering more about this great Hope we have?
This season is full of so many fun traditions, but in the midst of these, let us be the Church who is looking forward to the whole reason He came in the first place.
We can apply Rachel’s words again:
You looked to Him. You waited. And we claimed He would hear our requests.
Let us pray for one another as we wait for His promised Return.