Advent 2017 - Week Two

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

Peter offers a compelling yet mystifying image for Advent in the reading from 2 Peter 3:8-15a for this second week of Advent 2017. That image of believers “waiting for and hastening the day of the Lord.” What can this paradoxical saying mean for us? Fritz Bauerschmidt prones this image for us.

“Waiting and hastening.
These two things might seem incompatible.
How is it that we can patiently wait for something
and yet still impatiently seek to hasten its arrival?
Even more, how can we,
by acting with holiness and devotion,
do both things at the same time:
both waiting and hastening?
In answer to his own question
of what people we ought to be
in the face of God’s coming transformation of the world,
Peter says our lives should be a hastening that waits
and a waiting that hastens.

“We need somehow to work for the world’s transformation
while at the same time waiting for that transformation,
which only God can bring about in God’s own time.
That day we work to hasten
is what Second Peter calls “the day of God” –
the day whose coming belongs entirely to God and not to us.

“A hastening that waits and a waiting that hastens:
what Peter says about the kind of people we ought to be
might at first sound quite strange and paradoxical
but perhaps it is not so unfamiliar as it first appears.
Think of the process of growing from a child into an adult.

Of course for me that was a long time ago,
so I think of this in terms of my more recent experience
as the parent of teenagers.
I know that, as a parent, I want my children
to work at developing into adults
and to act like the adults they are becoming,
How many times have I said,
“you’re too old to act this way”?
At the same time,
I want them to be patient with themselves,
not to rush too quickly into adulthood,
but to let it arrive in its own good time.
How often have I said,
“Sorry, you’re too young for this”?
I want them both to wait for adulthood
and to hasten toward it.
And this is not, I hope,
simply one more unreasonable parental demand
because, oddly enough,
these two things often occur simultaneously
in a hastening that waits and a waiting that hastens.
Sometimes it is a step toward maturity to recognize
that you are not yet mature enough for something
and that the most adult thing you can do
is to let yourself be a child for a little while longer.
At other times maturity involves stepping forward in faith
into a risky new experience,
despite all hesitation,
trusting that, whether your succeed or you fail,
it is all part of your becoming an adult
though it may require patient waiting before you can see that.

“Maybe if those of us who are adults
can recall how it was that we became adults
we can have some idea
of the sort of persons we ought to be
as “we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells.”
If we listen to the voice of the apostle Peter
calling us to cultivate lives
of holy waiting and devoted hastening,
then the Advent season can be for us
a time both of anxious yearning for the world’s redemption
and of patient waiting to receive it as God’s gift.”

This is how to make Advent great again!


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