12.02.2011

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT Year B

Isaiah 40:1-11 • Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 • 2 Peter 3:8-15a • Mark 1:1-8

Expectation and Anticipation.

We can optimistically and hopefully expect, or anticipate, something. We can also expect, or anticipate, something with dread.

Looking forward to the future.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The season of Advent is traditionally charged with Anticipation and Expectation. And when we look at this week's scriptures we can see these themes present--sometimes with great hope and excitement, and sometimes with some dread and trepidation.

The passage from Isaiah is so beautiful. This is being spoken to a broken people who have been held down in a variety of ways by a variety of people. And these words of God, shared by the Prophet Isaiah, are so uplifting and encouraging. It really must have given its hearers a lot of optimistic anticipation.

The passage from Psalm 85 is similar. And in both of these passages there is this forward looking expectation that God will continue to be faithful to them and bring the people out of their difficult situations and continue to protect them and hold them up.

The passages from 2 Peter and Mark are similar in their optimistic anticipation, however they are also heavy with some negative, or at the least uncertain, images.

In this passage from the beginning of Mark there is not as much of a beautiful image of an ideal future as there is the anticipation of a coming Lord. Saint John the Forerunner is baptizing people in preparation for the coming of this Lord, and in this particular passage all the information we get about him is that he is powerful and will baptize people with the Holy Spirit. Now, I can imagine this was encouraging and welcome to some, but it seems like this is a message that could go either way as far as being encouraging. News of a coming powerful Lord planning to baptize me with the Holy Spirit does not always give me something to look forward to.

In the second letter of Peter we get a message of how God will come and set the heavens ablaze and dissolve them and replace them with a new heaven and a new earth, etc. Violent, world-changing, reality-changing imagery. And, certainly, that could be positive especially for those who are desperate for things to change. But what about those folks who are reasonably pleased with how things are right now?

Honestly, there are days we eagerly anticipate things dramatically changing. And there are days we are hesitant for anything to be different because things seem pretty good right now. However, we are also aware that there are always those for whom dramatic change is the only good option.

The coming of the Lord who will bring change to individuals and to the world is not always an exciting thing to anticipate...however, we are promised it has come and is coming. How do we live in this space of the already and the not yet?

God, we are not certain which voice to listen to.
We hear Yours
We hear Your promises
We hear Your call
And
We hear the call of the world around us
We hear the world's promises
We hear our own desires
And we don't always know which voice to listen to.
Guide us.
Be gentle with us.
Be forceful with us.
Help us as we attempt to follow You.
Amen.

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