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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR DEC. 11 | Patience is anticipating with hope the fulfillment of God’s promises

This Advent, be patient in hope and trust, noticing what God is asking you to do today and actually doing it

Patience is an oft-repeated exhortation of Advent. Everyone has different reactions to that word, but it often evokes in me a sense of enduring something until what I’m looking forward to actually happens. The scriptural exhortation to be patient doesn’t encourage us to be lazy or complacent, but to stand on the promises of God so much that we anticipate fulfillment with hope.

As we are being patient, we have some work to do within ourselves and within the world. The Scriptures this weekend remind us of the fruits of God’s promise. We hear that the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared, the lame shall leap and the tongues of the mute will sing. That has its own literal sense, but it is also symbolic of a total transformation of the creation of God.

Waiting with patience means that we notice the circumstances around us and evaluate how much they look like the world that God has promised. After this analysis, our task of discipleship plays out before us. If we see circumstances in front of us that do not mirror the fulfillment of the promise of God, we must do all that we can to make that right.

In the Gospel for the third Sunday of Advent, the disciples of John the Baptist are invited to be messengers of clarification of the coming of the Messiah. In their encounter with Jesus and John the Baptist, they discover that John is not the Messiah, but the one who prepares the way. Imagine if you had been following someone and believing in him and are then told to transfer your allegiance to another. Most of us don’t like change, but if we are waiting patiently, we have a certain sensitivity to the truth.

Advent is a great season to acknowledge where we are called to shift our allegiance. Are there some things and people in life that have been advantageous to us so far, but at this point, we are being asked to let them go and place our security in something or someone much more reliable? Imagine the freedom that the disciples of John the Baptist experienced once they began to listen to and follow Jesus. It didn’t keep them from coming back to John and burying his body once he was killed. But it did open up for them the horizon of the promise of the Messiah to come.

Be patient, like the farmer who plants the seed. The farmer must be confident in the patterns of weather, the richness of the soil and the fruitfulness of time. The example of the farmer is given to us so that we can learn to trust more deeply. The farmer is able to wait in patience because of the experience of the rhythms of nature and the fruitfulness of the earth. Could you say the same for your own life?

There is still time remaining in Advent, and I would encourage you not to give these days away to the celebration of Christmas. Might you be willing to wait in patience for the celebration of Christmas by attending to the parts of your life that could use more patience and trust?

For thousands of years, people all over the earth have been waiting for the fulfillment of the promises of God. Please don’t be like those who believe themselves to be victims and stand by doing nothing. Instead wait patiently in hope and trust, noticing what God is asking you to do today and actually doing it.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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