Rector, Casey Shobe Sermon by: The Rev. R. Casey Shobe
Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration | Dallas, Texas
December 17, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent: Year B

The Difficulty of Waiting – Third Sunday of Advent: Year B

Texts: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 | Psalm 126 | 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 | John 1:6-8,19-28

When we began Advent two weeks ago, I preached about Jesus’ call to stay awake. Staying awake is one of the central themes of Advent, as we’re called by Jesus to stay awake and be ready, which I compared to expectant parents staying awake in anticipation of the birth of a child. One of the other major themes of the season of Advent is waiting. We’re all waiting for Christmas, of course, and during Advent we also ponder the wait for when Christ will come back. But the act of waiting is something most of us do in ordinary ways all year long.

We wait in traffic and for software updates. We wait for inspiration to strike and we wait for our waiter to bring the check. Those of you who are parents probably feel like you’re waiting for a kid to be potty-trained or drive herself or graduate college. I know many in our church are waiting for their health to improve or their bodies to heal from surgery or an injury. Heck, I’m sure more than a few of us are simply waiting until we can see the new Star Wars movie!

Whatever it is, we know what waiting feels like, because we do a lot of it. But as much waiting as we do, I don’t know that we’re all that good at it. We’re much better at doing. I know I prefer to have a task, something to keep me engaged and occupied. I barely finish one thing before I’m looking forward to the next. Archbishop Rowan Williams once wrote that “the hardest thing in the world is to be where you are,” which pretty well sums up how I feel a lot of the time. And famed preacher Barbara Brown Taylor puts it this way.

“Waiting is an aggravation…at least partly because we do not like being reminded of our limits. We like doing – earning, buying, selling, building, planting, driving, baking – making things happen, whereas waiting is essentially a matter of being – stopping, sitting, listening, looking, breathing, wondering, praying. It can feel pretty helpless to wait for someone or something that is not here yet and that will or will not arrive in its own good time, which is not the same thing as our own good time.”