This Advent has been, for me and I think for many in our community, oddly hopeful. Hopeful perhaps for obvious reasons: the remembering and anticipating of Christ's coming tends to set our hearts towards the promise that we know Christ comes and with His coming means something better awaits us. But odd because the Scriptures the lectionary brings us this Advent have not yet been filled with scenes of mangers and shepherds and a baby. Instead, they've been about John the Baptist and preparing the way and being ready when Christ comes again.
This week as we heard about John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus to go about capturing the hearts of his people through the advent of a new Kingdom... I found myself struck by Steven's call for us to be patient. To be patient for the work of the Spirit to actually accomplish something good in us. To be patient for the work of the Spirit to bring us what we need, when the time is ready, and that what we need is often much different from what we want. To be patient with our temporary, yet trudging struggles, because on the other side there will be a depth of faith and love in Christ and a grace to be found there that will truly fulfill the longings of our hearts.
And as I've rolled these thoughts around in my heart and thought of the more anticipatory, apocalyptic images of this Advent... the words that keep coming to me are... patient endurance. Patient endurance is not exactly what I would have thought as being one of God's whispers to me this Advent. Yet, it has brought about much hope in me because of the swelling brokenness I keep stumbling upon in myself, in others, and as I read the headlines in the news. Were it not for this odd hope of Christ this Advent, it would all be much to discouraging. But odd hope means patient endurance... to wait. to watch. to bear with. to long for. to prepare.
That is a message we all need. Stay awake, beloved people of God. Be watchful and prepare for my coming, because on the other side of your endurance you will find Christ himself, in great glory in power, standing ready to meet you.