Today’s Bible reading
During the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. — Luke 3:2
More thoughts for meditation
Luke is very careful to place John the Baptist and the whole Nativity narrative squarely in actual history. He wants to say, “This stuff actually happened.” It really happened–to real people–in their real time. And how much time had they been waiting in that very specific time and place for something specific to happen?
They were waiting for the Messiah, the sent one from God, the one who would fulfill the promises of old, the one of whom the prophets of old had sung. They had been waiting for 500 years and more. The age of prophecy had seemed to cease with the Exile in Babylon. Of course there were many faithful people who tried to put the pieces back together after that devastating dislocation. It was in the aftermath of exile that the Old Testament as we know it came to be. The project of Israel shifted to understanding what had gone wrong. They looked to the past to learn the lessons their ancestors had missed.
As they focused on the old stories and all the words of their prophets, there emerged this sense that someone must be coming who will deliver on all of God’s promises. Out of the study of their history emerged a future oriented faith that waited in eager expectation for a specific Messiah.
Circle of Hope Audio Art’s song, Light from Light, is the perfect anthem for this long wait. “How many years did we wait for the one?/Waiting for you and now you have begun.” Now is now. Jesus has begun! Wait a minute! This is really happening! This is really happening her and now in this time and this place! We need all those exclamations to get into the incredible moment in history when the wait was finally over. It’s about time!
Suggestions for action
We might wait for something so long that we forget what we are waiting for or why we were waiting in the first place. The extended waiting to which all our hopes are subjected is hard to bear. We must hold the tension of remembering the past and looking to the future. Be aware of your weariness. If you need help, help is near. Holding on must be intentional. It is not passive.
Advent is like training to climb El Capitan in Yosemite.Work on your grip strength, yes, but also tie yourself to your partners, so when you fall, you won’t fall too far. Because you will likely fall. This wait is not a free solo sort of thing. Make a plan to be at a Sunday meeting with other Christians this weekend.
Pray more with our song: “Lengthening nights and the days have grown cold/Hold us to you before darkness takes hold”