Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 30 Nov. 2014, Advent 1
Year B RCL: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
Happy New Year!
Did you forget today starts a new church year? We have moved from Year A to Year B. Did it slip up on you?
Sometimes time has a way of getting away from us. Do we spend time? Lose time? Waste time? Use time? Let's devote time this morning to consider this gift that God gives us.
Our calendars tell us Christmas is around the corner and so is the new calendar year of 2015.
Calendars tell us many things: when each season starts, what day of the week will your birthday will be on, which day will be July 4th. Liturgical calendars tell us when special days are in the church year, what colors we use (purple, white, red or green), what scriptures to read, the days we remember various saints & what events we focus on in Jesus' life.
The Church year starts with Advent when we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birthday while we await his coming again. That date isn't on any calendar, as Jesus tells us in our Gospel.1
Jesus tells us what is important to know is that we have work to do for God while we are waiting. What do we do in this waiting time? This is in-between time after Jesus has died for us, risen from the dead, & ascended into heaven & it ia while we await his coming again.
If we focus on Jesus' last statement, “Keep awake,” we may work ourselves to death. Notice: before this, Jesus says: Keep alert...It is LIKE a man going on a journey & he puts his slaves in charge “each with his work”. God gives each of us work only we can do.
God gives us all the time we need to do the work God gives us. Time is a precious gift. God makes us stewards of this gift. What is your perspective on time?
The Celtic poem, “Passing Time,” says
To a child a few weeks seem long.
To a youth a few months seem long.
To an adult a few years seem long.
To an old person decades seem short...
To God decades are seconds, Centuries minutes.
To (God) eternity is every moment.
Be patient with yourself: Think like God.2
Think what it would be like to live 3 years just waiting in a line. How patient could you be waiting in line 3 years?
People who live to be 70 have lived 3 years waiting – just waiting!3 Last week in Washington, DC, my husband & I waited for taxis, waited for my brother & sister-in-law to meet us at a restaurant, waited for our meal, waited in line to buy groceries to take to our son's home while he was at work. We saw people waiting in a traffic jam in front of our hotel as we took a walk. I am sure each of us has waited in a doctor's office, waited at a gas pump, waited for our turn to play in a game.
You may remember Dr. Seuss' “Oh, the Places You'll Go” about people in a useless waiting place, people so very different from you. In this Body of Christ, I know you make use of waiting time: reading a book, calling a friend, handling business, knitting or crocheting while you wait. You understand time is a gift from God. You know how to make the most of it. You have the wisdom to know some things are more important than other things. You have wisdom to transform those 3 years of waiting into sacred time like Ruth Hulburt Hamilton says in her “Poem to a Fifth Child”4:
Quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby & babies don't keep.5
Some things are more important than a sink full of dishes & bills to pay. Dallas Clayton speaks to this sense of the sacredness of time in his first kid's book for adults: It's Never Too Late, which I took time to buy when we found ourselves near my favorite bookstore in DC.
He says......[read selected portions]
So how will you live the moments of this Advent season of waiting, this time of preparing for Christmas? How will you find joy in the waiting?6
Can you wait
in joyful hope?
Clayton, Dallas. It's Never Too Late. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2013.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Hamilton, Ruth Hulburt. “Lullaby for a Fifth Child.” www.lullaby-link.com/song-for-a-fifth-child. Accessed: 29 Nov. 2014.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible. Accessed: 23 Nov. 2014.
http://manysparrows.me/im-rocking-my-baby. Accessed: 29 Nov. 2-14.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 7 Oct. 2014.
“Ready for His Return”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 25 Nov. 2014.
Van de Weyer, Robert. Celtic Praise: A Book of Celtic Devotion, Daily Prayers and Blessings. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 1998.
“The Waiting Place”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/waiting_place.htm/ Accessed: 25 Nov. 2014.
2 Van de Weyer, Robert. Celtic Praise: A Book of Celtic Devotion, Daily Prayers and Blessings. P. 55.
6 Ibid. “The Waiting Place”.