Thibideaux took his pet duck to the veterinary clinic, and laid its limp body on the table. The doctor pulled out his stethoscope, listened to the duck’s chest for a moment, then shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but your duck has died.”
“What?” Thibideaux screamed, “You haven’t even done any tests! I want another opinion.”
The vet left the room and returned in a few moments with a Labrador retriever. The retriever sniffed the duck on the table carefully from head to toe. Finally, the retriever shook its head and barked once. The Vet shook his head and said, “Not looking good.”
Next, the vet took the Labrador away and returned a few minutes later with an old gray cat, which also sniffed carefully over the duck on the table before shaking its head and saying, “Meow.”
“Nope,” said the vet. “This here duck is dead.” Then he handed Thibideaux a bill for $600. Thibideaux shook the bill at the vet. “$600! Just to tell me my duck is dead?! That’s outrageous!”
The vet explained, “If you had taken my word for it, the charge would have been $50, but with the lab work and the cat scan….”
This may be just me, but do you ever think about who to speak to in prayer. Do you go to God the Father, God the Son, or to the Holy Spirit? Or is it really just a whole lot safer to go to Mama Mary and have her take it up with the others? For me, it largely depends on the question. For example, if I want one of my enemies dealt with most most severely, then I’ll go to God the Father and in the words of Bruce Almighty pray, “Smite them O’ Mighty Smiter.” However, if I recognize that I might be the one in error, then I’ll take the matter up with Jesus, “Dear Sweet Jesus, who died for my sins and loves me as child, please go speak to Dad on my behalf, etc., etc.” And, if I’m feeling particularly holy, it is the Holy Spirit that I’ll petition, “Guide me in making this decision.”
When I do this – when we do this, I somehow think we are looking for a different answer. I’m fairly certain that God will whack me one for doing such and such, so if I go to Jesus first, he’ll be able to soften the blow. It’s a bit like a teenager who goes and asks mom, “Can I have ___?” and when told “No,” then goes to dad with the same request, hoping for a more favorable response.
We may also try this when we don’t get the answer we are looking for. “Can I have a cookie?” “No.” “Well, if I don’t have a cookie after dinner, can I have a cookie now?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because I said so.” “But why?” That can go on ad nauseum until someone gives up or gives in.
We do the same thing with God and we have since the beginning. Adam and Eve: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. Well, we all know how that one worked out.
Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” yet so many will say, “That’s not fair. Isn’t there another way? What about all those who have never heard of Jesus?” I’m fairly certain that God thought of all that, but what I like to remind folks of is that we are believers in God’s Holy Word; therefore, for us, Jesus is the only way and He is the only way that we can proclaim.
I say all this because we often times think in the same manner when it comes to readings like what we have today. Jesus speaks of how the people were surprised on the great and terrible day of the flood and goes on to say, “so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
A few weeks ago I shared with you that the end is coming, but that the end times writings were not written so that we would be overly concerned about the future, but so that we would focus on today, our relationship with God, not in the past or in the future, but today. And that is still very much true, but even though we are mindful of today, we must still remember that the second coming of Christ, the end of all things, will occur. As we say in the Nicene Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end” and also in the Memorial Acclamation, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again”; but because of what we perceive as a delay – it has been almost 2,000 years and nothing has happened – we can sometimes begin to wonder and question those statements.
Has He forgotten? Did He just give up on us? Or is it a bit more subtle than that, more like the snake in the garden, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Did God really say, “I will come again or did He mean that in a more figurative sense? Was He just speaking in riddles like he always seems to have done? “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said. “He will not really come,” the serpent says. “It was all a lie. There is no second coming. There is no eternal Kingdom. There is no.. Oh, my goodness… there is no hope!”
If we think in such a way, then we would not be the first. Second Peter, chapter 3, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
The Lord’s return may seem slow to us. We may wish he would hurry things up, but we must never lose our hope in His ultimate return. What you see around you is temporal – temporary. These things will pass away and what will come in their place when Jesus returns is eternal. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” That is our hope. Not a wishful thinking kind of hope, but an absolute certainty. We may question many things throughout our lives, but this hope is one that we never need to.
David wrote in the Psalms:
One thing have I asked of the LORD;
one thing I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days
of my life;
To behold the fair beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
What if I had not believed
that I should see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
O tarry and await the LORD’S pleasure;
be strong, and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the LORD. (Psalm 27:5-6, 17-18)
We too must wait patiently for the Lord, but we do not wait in vain.
Let us pray:
give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life
in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;
that in the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
one God, now and for ever.
2 Replies to “Sermon: Advent 1 RCL A- “Waiting””
I stumbled onto these pages While clarifing information for the Blue Book. Gave five stars to the first two I read, and while reading this one realized I was giving stars as a way of saying how much I agreed with you. Perhaps that’s an okay way to use them, but then I came to this posting. Much of it I love (uh, agree with … ) and then I stumbled and stepped into some thoughts I see very differently. So my post is to tell you I love your writing and the ways in which you are leading the people of St. Matthew’s and to suggest if our paths ever cross in real time, I hope it’s in a place with comfortable chairs, diet colas, your favorite beverage, and lots of folks to overhear our conversation. Oh yes, and a memory of what hooked me! Keep up the good work!
I am looking forward to the day our paths cross! Thank you for you kind words. I pray you have a blessed Advent and Christmas.