“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.”
I’m always glad that I can read while moving – in cars, on an airplane, on a train like the one I’m riding for eight hours today to Connecticut. It makes travel that much more enjoyable and/or productive. Reading was a coping mechanism developed relatively early in my life to stave off the waiting for a trip to end. (I’m guessing my parents approved since it provided an alternative to the classic “Are we there yet?” questions.) One of the genre’s I always enjoyed was fantasy – a genre that is no stranger to heroes and dark, hopeless situations that somehow turn out for the better.
The Isaiah and Luke passages bracket hundreds of years that the people of Israel spent waiting for the prophesied coming of the Messiah. Jude, the lead-in to the book of Revelations, sounds themes of waiting for Christ’s return and the fullness of God’s Kingdom becoming present “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The challenge of waiting is sometimes no easier for us as adults than when we were children. Yet it’s also likely (given the lengths of time the church has been waiting so far) that our lives will pass before final fulfillment occurs (whatever that looks like.) For me, sometimes the most relevant question as a Christian is not “what are you waiting for?” but “what should we do while we wait?”
The passages in today’s lectionary also have some suggestions. “Do not be afraid” are words that stand out from Isaiah. “Build yourselves up in . . . faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love,” writes Jude to fellow believers. John also, before clarifying for the crowd that he is not the Messiah, responds to their question “what should we do then?” His answer to all – “the one with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
What does that mean in your life as we approach our remembrance of Christ’s coming and a new year?