Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Waiting Continues

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 
Luke 2: 36-38

As we wrap up the Advent and Christmas meditations for this year, I think back to my first comments on the action of waiting. I mentioned how I despise waiting and that one of the reasons I dislike it so much is because it usually involves a significant amount of fear. However, after reviewing the lives of some of the people surrounding the birth of Christ all those many years ago I see also that for those who waited in faith, waiting also meant hope.

They all went through their waiting periods by different routes, but they all got to experience a good measure of hope along their way. For instance, remember how Zechariah and Elizabeth each encountered different struggles with doubt, but at the end, they both were able to rejoice in the hope of a son. Also, we saw how Mary accepted her fate with humility and hope flourished in her heart with each flutter in her womb, while Joseph accepted his fate with hesitation but then felt hope grow in his soul as he ushered the Light into the world. The shepherds in the fields of apparent hopelessness, resigned to their fate as they continued to keep watch, until one night they were rewarded with seeing Hope born in the shape of a baby boy.

Today’s reading brings us Anna. Her life as a perfect illustration of faithful waiting in the Lord…she lost it all very early in her life, but continued to fully rely on God as she waited and served Him in His house all the days of her life. Finally, hope materialized in front of her eyes in the presence of Jesus the Christ. She recognized Him and immediately began to give thanks and praise, but also to tell all who would listen about this child being the hope of all Israel.

For Anna, the years of paying attention, the years of staying close to the Lord, the years of watching, the years of waiting made her stay aware and guided her in the discernment of the presence of God in that baby she saw the young, unknown mother carry in her arms. The promise of hope was fulfilled the moment she saw the eyes of God.

Like Anna and Simeon, we too have received the promise of Jesus coming back,

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24: 30-31

Therefore, we also ought to wait in Him for the glorious day of His return. Like Anna, who dedicated his life to the Most High in prayer, fasting and obedience, like Simeon who trusted the promise and revelation that had been entrusted to him, we too have been commissioned to expect Him…to be prepared to receive Him. He will come at an hour that no one knows, but we had been warned not to be like those in the times of Noah who “were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” (Matthew 24: 37-39) We do know, therefore, we need to be prepared as we wait in faith and in hope.

I pray that 2016 would be a year in which our waiting periods would be flooded with hope…the hope of the Emmanuel, for He is always with us regardless of our circumstance…for He is the Savior and He is coming back. Now we wait for His return in faithfulness and hope, for He who promised IS Faithful and all His promises are true.

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