Advent Midweek III

“Patience”

James 5:7-11

 

            In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“Be patient, therefore, brothers [and sisters], until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7, ESV).  If you haven’t noticed, it is getting harder to be patient.  Things move so quickly.  News has to be up-to-the-second, even if inaccurate, or it is old news.  No time to process what any piece of news might actually mean.  No time to sit and think.  No time to read a book; we need quickly moving pictures to hold our attention.  I can’t help but suspect that Attention-Deficit Disorder is a distinctly modern phenomenon.  We certainly shouldn’t be surprised to find that children and adults who have flashing images thrown at them every half-second cannot sit patiently and analyze information for anything below the surface.  We live in an age of information, but who knows what the information is good for?  Doesn’t matter; we’ve got to have it, and we’ve got to have it now.

Appropriate, then, that we read the words of St. James in this age: Be patient, therefore, until the coming of the Lord.  We certainly need that reminder.  You can feel the pull of impatience even now.  You are thinking about all that still needs to be done before you leave for your parents’ house, or before your kids come home for Christmas.  You find it difficult to sit for an hour when it doesn’t seem like what you do here has any bearing on your life.  There are no flashing images; no quickly-changing camera angles; nothing aimed at holding your passive attention.  There is silence here.  There are things here that require more than a moment’s observation.  There are hymns and Scripture that cannot be grasped by a second’s glance.  The things of God require patience.

Some have given up trying.  There are churches that have given in to our ADD age, and who bank on sparkle and superficiality.  But the Church of God does not think in nano-seconds.  She thinks in centuries.  She thinks in thousands of years, from a promise in a Garden to a Baby in a manger.  She thinks in thousands of years, from His resurrection to our resurrection.  And so, dear people of God, be patient until the coming of the Lord.  He will not delay.  St. James could say that “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8, ESV), and we are already two thousand years further on!  But that is because the coming of the Lord is at hand every day.  Because, beloved, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV).  Be patient, therefore, as the Lord is patient.  His patience means salvation.  Count time as the Lord counts time, and sit for a moment.  Reflect.  Be still and know that He is God-which means that you are not.  Though the world runs head-lessly and heedlessly, collecting bits and bytes of information as if they meant something, your God is a God of the big picture.  A big picture that, nevertheless, includes you and every part of your life.  Do not grow weary; be patient.  The coming of your God, whom you worship as a baby in a manger, is at hand.  Keep waiting, He’ll be right on time.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).  Amen.

–Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 12/20/07
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