Rev. Tony Romaine
As we journey through the Advent season this year, I want to take us on an exploration of the great questions which we are all taught from an early age, Who, What, Why, When, Where, and perhaps even How. Each week we will tackle another one of these basic questions in response to our Advent season. For today, we are going to discuss when…So let us begin!
I remember my Grandpa telling me a story comparing how things are done in Minnesota and how things are done in California. He told me, “Back in MN if you took your car into the repair shop and asked for when they would have it back to you, if they told you ‘Next Wednesday,’ it meant you could go in the next Wednesday and pick it up. But here in CA, when I take the car into the repair shop and they tell me ‘Next Wednesday,’ that could indeed be next Wednesday, or it could be Thursday, or Friday, or the following Wednesday.” I think of this story often when I think about how different time is to different people in different places.
The million-dollar question of “when” is one that is near and dear to my heart, for it was a question that led me down my path of calling in ministry and my complete trust in God. And trust is the concept which most aligns with our questions of when, for we do not know the time and date of when it will happen, but we must trust in that it will.
But what is this “when” we refer to? Well, for the ancient Israelites, the “when’s” they were wondering were many, just like ours. When will we be saved from this Egyptian slavery? When will we be saved from this wandering in the wilderness? When will we be saved from the Assyrians and the Babylonians? When will the promised Savior come? Often times, our ancestors were so focused on asking questions and doubting their current situation, that they failed to heed the warnings of the prophets or listen and follow the Word of God. Instead of remaining present in their lives and working, worshipping, and being the love of God to one another, they often would ignore their call to love God and love one another and instead pine after their “when’s.”
Moreover, when times were bad, they would call on God to save them and blame God if it did not happen. And when times were good, they thought that they themselves could prolong and procure those good times and so failed in their thankfulness to God. Thus, when the ultimate Savior did come, they were expecting the “when” they thought was right and what was going to happen and were blind to the actual coming of the Lord into their lives.
I don’t know about you, but hearing this very brief generalization of the Old and New Testaments up to the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection makes me ponder about my own life. It seems to me like there might be a few lessons we need to learn about asking the question of “when.”
First lesson of when:
Second Lesson of When:
Third lesson of when:
See, this Advent, as in the past, we are being called to trust in the when which we do not know. We are being called to live into a light that we must trust will burst forth into our lives once again at a time yet to be determined. We are being told to be ready, for we do not know the hour or the day, but we must be prepared. But it seems just like our ancestors of old, our “when’s” are piling up again. For instance:
But if I can be so bold, let me offer what I feel might be God’s response to some of these questions of when. Because I truly feel and believe that if we were all to reflect on these, we know the answers in our hearts. So here we go:
And while we can only speculate the answers to all these “when’s,” if we are honest with ourselves, we do know one thing that we often forget; the waiting, the hoping, the time of anticipation is a moment for us to embrace one another in God’s love and share our love with the world.
Okay, if you were following along, you realize there is one of our “when” questions I did not answer: When will Jesus come again to heal our broken world? This one I do not presume to even postulate about, as we can never be sure. But this is what Advent is all about, and why we begin our Advent season with the Sunday of Hope; we must trust and believe in our God who does not abandon us, who does not ever leave us, who longs for us to put everything we have and give everything we have to God, and we must hope in a future we cannot even imagine nor have any idea of when it will come. Advent is all about trusting and believing in that our God of Love will provide, our God of Love is real, and Our God of Love will indeed come again.
And in this manner, I feel like God is working on repairing something; perhaps us. And when in hope we ask for a date of completion, in the most California way possible we do not really know our “when.” So, I guess it’s best we just prepare ourselves for whenever Wednesday comes and live into God’s Eternal Hope, Amen!