What does waiting look like?
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Our second reading this morning was encouraging the church in Corinth to wait eagerly for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.  What does waiting eagerly look like? 

Are we eagerly waiting for Christmas?  Well for us it’s already that time of year when many of us are getting tired of all the Christmas carols and the bedlam and stress that goes with the secular celebration of Christmas.  I was listening to the internet radio as I was writing this and heard a country version of ‘Rudolph the red nose reindeer’ and found myself removing my earphones and shutting the browser.  So if that resembles your current state are you eagerly waiting for Christmas or are we eagerly waiting for it to be over and done with so that we can have a bit of a holiday and unwind?  That’s one form of waiting, and maybe not so eagerly!

The first week of Advent isn’t so much about looking forward to the coming of the newborn Christ at Christmas but for his return to judge the living and the dead and to take us to be with him in paradise.  When we hear from the gospels things like suffering, the sun darkening and the moon not reflecting its light and stars falling from heaven we start to be a little less eager about that second coming than we possibly could be.  Then as I alluded to last week with the image of Jesus sitting on the throne separating the sheep from the goats we usually take the negative connotation and become scared of the end times.  So how are we to wait expectantly and eagerly for all of this to occur?

This waiting isn’t a passive thing; it’s not about sitting on your hands with a nervous look on your face.  Paul was calling the Corinthians to action.  That’s what eagerly waiting looks like, being active.   What Paul actually told them was that they didn’t lack any spiritual gift as they eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.  They had the gifts that were required to live out their lives in the kingdom of God.  And to add to the mix, they weren’t waiting by themselves or acting by themselves but in fellowship with one another, so the gifts that each of them had covered all of the spiritual gifts.  So they were prepared to eagerly wait, in communion or fellowship with one another, in mutual support and love.

So if eagerly waiting means put into action the collective spiritual gifts that are given to us by God through the power of the Holy Spirit, what does that look like for us?  You may remember Christie’s report for the Annual General Meeting, it mentioned and I’m not quoting directly here, but paraphrasing, we are like jars of clay, being formed and moulded by the Father, he is the potter and we are the clay.  He has formed us each uniquely and given us gifts for the building up of his kingdom.  We are to each individually put our gifts to action as Paul describes a little later in 1 Corinthians 12, some will be prophets, some evangelists, teachers, pastors, healers and the list goes on, but all are to use them for the common good.  Not for individual gain but for the building up of the body.  The church is like a body, it is made up of many parts and needs the various parts in order to function, so waiting eagerly means the body working together for the good of the whole.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, it is the start of a new church year.  Today we install new church councillors and affirm those who are continuing, we say in the rite of installation that there are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served, there are different abilities but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.  The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.  That’s eagerly waiting, putting our gifts and abilities into action.  On Wednesday night we are holding our first Church Council meeting for the new church and congregational year, and this is traditionally a night of planning and preparation for the year ahead.  It usually involves reflecting on what has gone well, what hasn’t, what we should continue and what we should consider altering. 

Each of the people on church council have been elected by you to be your representative and to put into action the mission and visions of our congregation.  They have the gifts and abilities to do so, but they aren’t or at least shouldn’t be in it alone.  Church council is still a part of the body and it isn’t the whole.  They can implement the initiatives and directives but they can’t execute them without the help of the rest of our church body.  They need your support in prayer, in affirmation and admonishment, and of course through your actions in supporting the work of our congregation in worship and in our community as we eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Along the way some cracks may show in the clay that the Father has moulded us into.  My prayer is that rather than pointing out the cracks as they form we support each other and use the spiritual gift of healing and mercy to repair the cracks together and allow the light of Christ to shine in us richly as we work side by side as the body of Christ to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising and teaching, praying for and serving, and building up the body of Christ and being his helpers in building his kingdom.

God is faithful and has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  That fellowship means living in communion with one another, it means coming together as the body of Christ to worship regularly and to pray for and support one another.  To have the gifts God has given you affirmed and strengthened through preaching and teaching and service, and to live in the grace and peace that God the Father has given us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You have been enriched in every way, don’t wait nervously for the end of time to come, burying your talent in the sand, live in the grace that God has shown to you and eagerly wait for Christ’s return as you put your gifts and talents into action for the common good of all.  That’s what eagerly waiting looks like.

Amen.