Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

11/29/15 Sermon - What Are Your Expectations?

“What Are Your Expectations?”

1st Sunday of Advent – 2015

Isaiah 9:1-7 & Luke 21:25-28; 34-36

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Today is the first day of the church’s new year. The church calendar is different from the Greco-Roman Calendar we follow outside of church. The church’s New Year begins with the Advent Season. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and the Advent season helps us prepare for the most wonderful time of the year, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The church has established themes for the next four Sundays and we will spend time focusing on these themes in order to get our heads and hearts wrapped around the real reason for the season. The best gift of all was given by God, over 2000 years ago, to a world that was not expecting it, or so it seemed.

In addition to the event that occurred in Bethlehem, there is another Advent, or “coming” or “arrival” Christians should also be preparing for and that is the time when Jesus will return to earth, in his glory, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess, that He is Lord of Lords.

We are living in the time, in between, the two visits of God to earth, that have changed and will change humanity. As individuals and as a congregation, we affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the form of the Holy Spirit with us today, and that He will come again, to take us home to be with him forever, in eternity. But for now, we are asked to wait.

Now I don’t know about you, but often times, I do not particularly like waiting. Especially in our fast paced world today, waiting has almost become a dirty word. Why we have almost mastered the art of dispensing with waiting in most aspects of our lives.

Take the task of cooking a baked potato. Before the microwave it took around an hour, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the size of the potato you can have one now in under 5 minutes.

And what about having to wait to find out what is happening in China or Africa? We have computers and television sets that bring news to us, while it happens.

But there is still one thing that technology has not been able to speed up for us and we are forced to wait for, and that is the birth of a child. Pregnant women are quite aware of the definition of the word “wait”.

Katya, Kristin and Emily.

From the moment a woman suspects she is pregnant, the waiting begins. It begins with the ept test when you are waiting to see two pink lines, instead of one. Once you have seen the doctor to confirm your pregnancy, you wait the first three months before you tell everyone, waiting to get past the time when a miscarriage is likely.

Then there is the waiting

-       For morning sickness to end

-       To feel the first kick

-       For the time you won’t feel so tired

-       To feel comfortable again

-       For the contractions to begin

For those of us who have been through it, you know what I mean. And for those who have been on the outside, waiting it can be just as frustrating having to wait.

The season of Advent is all about a pregnancy, it is the waiting for the birth of a special child, the son of God. And like any pregnancy the waiting in Advent should be one of expectancy. When a woman is pregnant, we say she is “expecting”. Luckily, the season of Advent is only four weeks of waiting, rather than the thirty-eight weeks, of waiting to carry a child full term.

Today we lit the Prophecy candle, or the candle of hope. Within the connotation of the word Prophecy is the idea of having to wait. A prophet foretells what will happen, in the future. And most often there is not a definitive time given when the prophecy will come to fruition.

Thus the need to wait.

And although it may get frustrating and there may be times of sheer madness in having to wait, the idea that the outcome will be well worth the wait is at the forefront of both Advent and giving birth.

Today’s Scriptures address both Advents.

We have Isaiah’s prophecy which describes the coming of the Messiah, who will come as a baby and will be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, and there is Luke’s warning us to be prepared for the second advent, the time when Jesus returns in a cloud with power and great glory.

With each Advent there are expectations, expectations of what will happen and expectations of what should be done, and by whom. So often we get so caught up in the expectations that we forget to focus on the hope.

Isaiah gave his prophecy 700 years before Christ was born. That is a long time to wait. How did people do it? Less than perfectly I am sure, but throughout that time there were those who kept the faith. There were those who were trusting in God to redeem His people, to re-establish the throne of David and uphold justice and righteousness.

One such person was a young girl, whom God chose to carry the answer to his prophecy, whose faith allowed her to be the mother of Son of God. In the world’s eyes, she was insignificant but in God’s eyes she was just right to carry God, in the form of a child, just like Isaiah had stated.

Hope had entered the world.

Luke gave his prophecy around 2000 years ago, and we are still waiting, three times longer than for those who had to wait following Isaiah’s prophecy. When we examine the expectations Christians have towards this next Advent it seems to me they are sometimes too obsessive or they are non-existent.

Some Christians are so caught up with what the end time is going to be like and when it is going to happen that they have developed charts, graphs and timetables to explain everything this has happened, is happening and will happen. Forgetting that Jesus himself said in Mark 13, that neither the angels nor he himself knows the day or the hour.

Then there are those on the opposite extreme of the scale who claim the end times are so confusing and cause more trouble than they are worth so they don’t give any attention at all to the idea.

Either position, is bad theology.

Scripture warns us that there is evil in the world, and yet it also tells us, there is hope. Hope because the Holy Spirit is with us, and ultimate hope that Christ is returning, to bring this all to completion. Therefore we should be ready.

Scripture also tells us how to prepare for his coming, both his final coming and his coming anew to us this Christmas.

The lesson is in the waiting, or in the journey. Anything that is worth something is worth waiting for. Let’s not wish it away. Rather, let’s focus on the hope that it brings. Not just at the end of the journey, but every step of the way. And that hope is in Jesus.

Waiting is difficult, but rushing to the end can actually diminish the quality of life. Like a baby in the womb, we need each day, from conception to birth to grow in our relationship with Christ.

We need to learn to live with frustrations, discomfort and the unknown. It is through these events that we come to truly understand, our need for a Savior, from our sins and from this world. And it is the fact that our Savior is with us always, while we wait, taking in the journey with us, holding our hand through the tough times and rejoicing through the victories.

Let’s start this New Year, 2016, sitting back, patiently waiting, with Christ at our side, expecting……………..hope.

I am going to close with the reading of Romans 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

I encourage you to open the pew Bible, and read along with me, on page 1181.

Peace and Hope

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

What are you expecting? May it be Christ, the hope of Glory.

 

Let’s pray.