The sermon begins around 22 minutes in.
A person is talking to God, and asks “God, how long is a million years?”
God answers, “To me, it’s about a minute.”
“God, how much is a million dollars?”
God says, “To me, it’s a penny.”
Person says, “God, may I have a penny?”
God says, “Wait a minute.”
I am asking you today: “What are you waiting for?” or “What have you been waiting for?”
That question can go in either one of two directions.
The first way of waiting is for something to happen to you: I am waiting for Christmas (certainly the children can relate for that!) I am waiting for the doctor’s prognosis. I am waiting for the next election. I am waiting for the person behind the desk at the Ohio DMV to finally call my ticket number. This kind of waiting can either be filled with positive anticipation and hope, or boredom, anger and fear.
There is a second way of interpreting the question: “What are you waiting for?” It is the active sense. The lyric from Mary Chapin Carpenter “shut up and kiss me.” Quit talking and do something! “Fish or cut bait.” Make it happen!
Sometimes you have to get after what you are waiting for. You are waiting to get a new job – well, look for one. You are waiting for things to change – then change.
Michael Jackson sang as he looked at the man in the mirror:
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
If you see the inequities and unfairness in our world and have the means to fix it – what are you waiting for? Turn your passive impatience into action. Move towards what you are waiting for.
If you know you have that uncomfortable talk in order to share your truth – what are you waiting for? Take agency–embody that which you believe to be true.
For example, we are waiting in Advent for the incarnation – God becoming flesh. In Jesus Christ we see God embodied among us.
And Jesus was very clear. You and I are to become the Body of Christ, we are to be Jesus on this earth. Therefore, as we await his coming we had better get busy.
It is always like this in faith – the wondrous power of opposites. It’s not an oxymoron but a tension which drives you towards the Devine in-tention.
You have heard it said that Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. It is likewise insane to wait passively when you have to step up and make it happen.
We are living in a world gone insane. What are we waiting for to witness to sanity? Waiting for someone else to make happen what you need to make happen. Waiting for God to do what you and I have the capacity to do.
Popular music group Nickleback sang:
What are you waiting for?
Are you waiting for a lightning strike?
Are you waiting for the perfect night?
Are you waiting till the time is right?
What are you waiting for?
Don’t you wanna learn to deal with fear?
Don’t you wanna take the wheel and steer?
Don’t you wait another minute here
What are you waiting for?
When Dr. King was in the Birmingham Jail, there were many pastors who went to him and said that he shouldn’t lead direct action against the segregation in the city because it was causing tension. Dr. King should wait for things to work out. And Dr. King replied: “For years now I have heard the word “wait!” It rings in the ear with piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
This issue of waiting is at the heart of the Christian dilemma. Maybe it is at the heart of the dilemma you are facing now.
We trust in God, the one in whom we live and move and have our being. We believe that the God who created, and liberated and redeemed is going to bring to fruition the great hope of liberation and reconciliation.
In our reading today from the prophet Jeremiah: “The days are surely coming when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” We trust that God is a promise keeper. What we are waiting for is true!
Paul had to wait a bit to go visit the church in Thessalonica but he was so focused on that community: praying ceaselessly, sending Timothy, never forgetting, staying connected. “May our God and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we about in love for you.” Paul expresses his passionate intensity to stay actively engaged.
We wait for God to keep her promise with eager longing. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans (8:22-24)
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we are saved… if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
There are certain things that God can do that we cannot. It is way above our paygrade to change the cosmic realities. But there are many matters that we cannot and should not wait for. What are we waiting for?
You and I must help God keep his promises to the poor and the outcast.
Because we wait in hope that God will be true to the divine promise, it frees us to live actively into the hope of creating that for which we wait.
You are waiting for God’s peace – then make God’s peace.
You are waiting for reconciliation – be reconciled.
You are waiting for your elected leaders to be transparent and accountable – well make sure they are!
You are waiting for forgiveness – forgive.
You want truth (and contrary to Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”) “You [can] handle the truth,” – share your truth and see what happens.
We await the King of Kings and Lord of Lords this advent – but don’t expect him to solve your problems.
I think the existentialist philosopher Franz Kafka is right when he wrote: “The messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary;”
Perhaps the Messiah is waiting for us as we are waiting for him – waiting for us to smooth the highways, and level the roads through the wilderness so that those who are lost will be found and those who are in exile will come home and those who are enslaved will be free.
Why do we wait to cut gun violence or to protect young women from the sex traffickers, or bring health care to more people? Why do you wait to pray more and give more and be more?
We await the coming of the baby Jesus but we have babies to protect now in our midst.
The children running away from tear gas at the border – there are plenty of babies. Perhaps some are angels of whom we are unaware.We wait for the long arm of history to bend towards justice – but are you willing to bend it?
The communion meal that we will soon share is a perfect example of that which we wait for being present now – the great kingdom feast given to us. We wait for the time when all persons will be welcome to the table. Well, it is going to happen here, now.
We await the day when we will truly judge a person not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? Well let’s make it happen now!
Look, faithful waiting takes prayer, takes risk, takes hope, takes energy. And we might fail in the short term, but we will release a tremendous amount of divine energy into the universe and perhaps bring a little closer that for which we await.
Let’s wait together with eager expectation and get some things done and make some things happen. What are you waiting for?