December 12, 2013 · 10:03 am
Isaiah 40: 28-31
God seems to bless those who wait. Waiting is a timeless discipline with eternal rewards. The scripture has many stories of those who waited and learned.
Noah waited for years as he built a boat on dry land and learned the lesson of deliverance. Jonah waited three days in the belly of the fish and learned the lesson of obedience. The prophets waited for centuries to see the Messiah and learned the lesson of faith. Joseph waited in prison and learned the lesson of forgiveness. Zacharias waited to speak and learned the lesson of humility. Anna and Simeon waited a lifetime to see the Savior and learned the lesson of perseverance.
Waiting during the season of Advent can serve as a discipline to teach us many spiritual truths. While waiting we can develop patience and true obedience. We can glimpse the hugeness of God’s love and grace and learn to recognize holiness when we encounter it. Waiting nurtures our compassion and opens our eyes to see others in need. It opens our hearts to service and fosters a freedom to give and encourage others. As we pause and wait for God, we have time to assess our priorities, discover happiness where we are and develop an appreciation for what we have.
Advent is a time to deal with our fears, our anger, our disappointments, and learn to both give and receive forgiveness. It is a time to internalize the cleansing joy of repentance and to know the peace of taking last place. While we wait, we can use the unknown time to realize that living with mystery builds faith, and suffering and sacrifice reveal God to us. While waiting we acquire a dependence on God, we gain hope, and we become sure that while we wait we are never alone.
During Advent, the Church waits to celebrate the first Advent of God into the world and waits for completeness and perfection at the Second Advent. In the waiting, we find our peace.
Reflection – What have you learned from God during those waiting times of your life?
December 6, 2013 · 7:40 am
Luke 2: 22-35
The season of Advent gives us many opportunities to develop spiritual disciplines that become part of our faith journey all year long. As we look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ and anticipate his Second Coming we find that being faithful in times when the road ahead is unclear builds our dependence on God’s grace.
We can learn from Simeon about keeping faith. The Scripture tells us that he was a just and devout man in Jerusalem who had been promised by God that before he died he would see the Christ. As Mary and Joseph were taking the infant Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord and make a sacrifice, the Spirit led Simeon to the Temple, also. When he saw the baby he immediately recognized Him as the Messiah, blessed Him, and made a prophecy about His mission. Then Simeon spoke to God and told him he was ready to depart this world in peace because his promise had been fulfilled, his longing had been satisfied, and his waiting had been rewarded. After a life time of expectation the reality of the Messiah had been confirmed to Simeon. His life’s goal of actually seeing the Christ had been accomplished.
Simon had spent those long years of faithful anticipation as an opportunity to know God more intimately and to practice his devotion more fully. Some lessons can only be learned in a time of spiritual darkness or uncertainty, so God gives us the blessing of this time to realize the rewards of faithfulness. He gives us a sure hope that binds us to the assurance of holy promises. He frees us from the limitations of the measure of earth’s time or human standards of success or achievement.
When Simeon did see the Lord, he knew Him at once because his years of waiting had given him a clear understanding of God’s revelation. When finally realized, our expectation brings the joy and affirmation that God’s promises are real. A transcendence of head knowledge engages the heart and soul – that eternal part of us that is made in the image of God. We find that God’s promises are a certainty not a possibility. We can be sure of the outcome, not doubtful of the end.
Advent is a time of spiritual expectation and longing, a time of confirmed promises, a time of unashamed hope of Christ’s Second Coming. Advent is the celebration of the realization of God’s promise to Simeon and to us – Christ has come and Christ will come again.
Reflection – What spiritual lessons would you like to learn this Advent?
- Simeon’s Hope (fbcshawneeks.wordpress.com)