RCL Year B Advent II
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2 and 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Saint Mark 1:1-8

Advent, they say, is about waiting. Children know this: they have to wait until Christmas Day for their presents. Liturgically and theologically, we have to wait until Christmas to proclaim the presence of the Lord, that God is with us, Emmanuel. And we have to wait until the end of all things for that same Lord to come again to be our Judge and our Redeemer. Waiting. Waiting. All our lives we have been waiting for Jesus to come again. In this way, from this perspective, we are always waiting.

And if you think waiting until Christmas to open gifts and presents is difficult, try waiting in exile. The Prophet Isaiah addresses Israel in the Babylonian Captivity, far removed from their native land. Isaiah foresees a time when God will move mountains to make a way for his people out of exile, out of the desert. God will move those mountains tenderly. God “will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep”[1] out of exile, out of the desert. Incidentally, this image of God carrying the lambs is one of the sources of the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Isaiah’s prophecy encourages people to wait knowing the good that God will do.

And in the Epistle of Saint Peter, the author addresses people, about one hundred years after the Lord’s Ascension, who were losing patience about the Lord’s return. The wait is based on God’s time that is not our time. And, further, the wait has a purpose. The time of the wait is God’s gift of time to give people the time for repentance. Time is still that gift today.

And John the Baptist gives voice, a loud voice, to God keeping his promises. God is on his way. We are given the opportunity to be ready when he comes.

Waiting can be excruciating if all we in fact do is wait. But in this wait, the wait for the Lord, we are not powerless. We can refuse the season’s nostalgia, and we can forsake all the would-be saviors. Waiting for the Lord gives us so many opportunities, so many occasions, to bring Christ’s love into the world that we have plenty to do. We can use the time to prepare, to prepare the way of the Lord when he comes again. So many people need the love Christ came to bring. So many people, whose hearts beat the unmistakable beat of desperation, need that love, already poured into our hearts. Think of it this way. Christmas will not be Christmas for any of us unless someone we know, someone with but one degree of separation, finds the way to release and to share with us the love. We can share that love also, and when we do, God’s love has come again. We have so much to do, so much love to share, that we may not know we are actually waiting–waiting for the Lord in his fullness.

[1] Isaiah 40:11.