Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. David Miller

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Do you like to wait? I don’t. Oh, I like to think I like to wait because I like to think that I’m a better man, a better Christian, than I really am. So, do you like to wait? Probably not. Tom Petty had it right when he sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” F. Scott Fitzgerald said it this way, “The three worst things in life are to lie in bed and not to sleep, to try and please and not be able, and to wait for someone who does not come.” That’s true.

Perhaps that’s why Advent really resonates with us. It’s like life in that it’s about waiting. In life we wait to graduate; we wait to get married; we wait to get a promotion; we wait in line; we wait in our car; we wait to get pregnant…but not necessarily in that order. During the season of Advent the Church reminds us that waiting is an essential part of our religion. We wait on the coming of Our Lord; we wait for the consummation of all things; we wait for the final judgment; we wait on eternal life.

There’s just something painful about waiting. And that’s why it’s good for us. That’s why patience is a virtue. You’ll never acquire anything worth having in life without at least some measure of suffering. In this week’s epistle, St. James gives us a lesson on waiting that is worth sitting down to think about: “Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.”

We know that Christianity is a religion of fulfillment. The Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, are all proofs that our religion is one of fulfillment. But Christianity is also a religion of waiting. We wait in joyful expectation for the Second Coming of Our Lord. We wait for heaven and earth to be one. We wait for the New Jerusalem. That’s why, says Bishop Robert Barron, there’s a permanent Advent quality to Christian life. That’s one reason why we resonate with it, because it speaks of our whole life. We’re waiting for the Lord.”

But, it’s hard to wait, damn it! That’s why we need the virtue of patience. What is St. James trying to teach us? All things worth having, worth knowing, worth doing, take time. I like to cook. I enjoy making a good meal for my family. If I want to make it extra special, I know that I’m going to need three things: 1) Time 2) High quality ingredients 3) And a good beer. Think of the young man or woman who decides to become a lawyer. What will they need to become a successful one? Three things: 1) Time 2) Commitment to their studies 3) And a good beer. Anything in life that’s worth doing requires time, and that requires patience, which requires beer. Seriously, time does require patience. Without patience you’ll never see anything come to its fullness. You’ll never see the flower bloom.

That’s why St. James says, “Strengthen yourself.” Why? You’re going to need to pray, go to the Eucharist, confess your sins, engage in the Corporal Works of Mercy, and read your Bible if your going to learn to wait with patience. You strengthen yourself by doing these things. As Arch Deacon Luck likes to say, “You have your part to play in acquiring the virtue of patience.” So friend, play your part and God will do the rest.

Posted by The Rev. David Miller with

Getting Ready for Sunday: By the Rev. Alina Williams

The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent reminds us directly of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian, a “little Christ.” We ask our God to “give us grade to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” in this life that we are living now, so that “in the last day, when he shall come again…we may rise to the life immortal.” And St. Paul urges the Roman church to wake from sleep. He counsels them, impresses upon them the need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ—to clothe themselves in all that they do in Jesus Christ. And Matthew’s Gospel lesson only reinforces the Collect and the Epistle by conveying a sense of urgency, the need for these things (waking and putting on Christ) to happen as quickly as possible.

And, so, what has this to do with us? Everything, my brothers and sisters; it has everything to do with us. Our recent past, as a nation, as a community in and around Dallas, has taught us that the life that some of our African American brothers and sisters live is very different, much more dangerous than the lives that most Episcopalians in North Texas experience. The darkness they experience is very different than the darkness most of us experience. And, as St. Paul teaches, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).

As a member of the Body of Christ and of the human race that God made, and made good, I am deeply concerned about the light that I am putting on and projecting out into the world. Is the light, light enough? Is the armor of light strong enough to protect myself, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ from the hate that is spreading like wildfire through our nation, our world? Am I putting on the right armor of light: Am I truly putting on the armor of Christ’s light or am I simply putting on the armor that someone else is telling me to put on?

We must awake! We must be roused from this comfortable sleep—the sleep that persuades us that all is well and there are no problems with “the way it always has been.” This living that we are doing now will, indeed, affect that immortal life that we hope to attain. But more than that, putting on the armor of light, putting on Christ—showing the love of Christ to everyone we meet—that will affect the souls of those who have yet to learn about that immortal life. The renewal movement song that comes to my mind is “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” The world will know that we are little Christs by the love that we show.

The world will not know that we are Christians unless we put on this armor of light, unless we put on Christ fully, completely, and repeatedly—day in and day out, we must put on Christ. In all that we do, we must put on Christ. In all that we say, we must put on Christ. In every dollar we spend, we must put on Christ. In every reaction to hatred, we must put on Christ. In every thought of our minds, we must put on Christ. In every judgment we make, we must put on Christ.

We must put on Christ; and we must do it now. There’s an urgency, my brothers and sisters, and we must awake from our sleep. With clear eyes, open ears, willing hearts, and hands and feet at the ready, we must put on Christ. The time is now, and our call is clear: put on the armor of light; fight the darkness; and show it in all that we do.

Posted by The Rev. Alina Williams with

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This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.