By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” Jeremiah 33:14-17
The word “Advent” means “coming” or the arrival of something important.
As a people of faith, we join the voices of Ancient Israel in the clarion cry for God to save us, to restore justice and to build right relationships. We join their voices in a call for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
It is in times like these that we cry out to God to come in power and to do the spectacular. And, at the same time, we learn a new patience with God and ourselves. If there is one word that captures fully the meaning of the season of Advent, it is the word “wait.”
We’ve learned anew what it means to wait lately. With supply chain issues, we have to wait on products to be in stock, or we have to wait longer on packages to arrive. We have had to wait on test results and wait in anticipation to see if our plans will come to fruition or have to be postponed.
What is most important is not that we wait, but how we wait. Do we wait with a sense of excitement? Anticipation? Hope? Or, do we wait in the doldrums of frustration, fear and anxiety? As we move through this season of Advent, we must learn a new patience with God and ourselves. To be fully present in our waiting is to have hope in God’s promise. For me, hope sustains and restores life.
In my first appointment, Grant Sherfield was a member. Mr. Sherfield had a unique talent for restoring neglected and damaged furniture. His shop was filled with an array of tools. It was amazing what he could do with broken tables, chairs, discarded desks and the like. To see him was to think he was too feeble for all the hours he spent caning chairs and restoring furniture. After finishing a task, he would receive compliments graciously by saying, “Saving these things is a joy for me. I just try to restore the beauty that should be there.”
Friends, restoring the beauty of our lives is the work of hope. With the hope born in Christ, our lives can be restored to their intended beauty. Mr. Sherfield’s face would glisten after a task of restoration.
I believe that God’s face shines even brighter with hope when we practice our faith and fully trust that God’s promises will be fulfilled in our lives. Think of the beauty that has been restored during the last 20 months—the innovative ways our churches have created meaningful new worship experiences online, on the phone and in parking lots; the creative methods that have been developed to meet the needs of the community from drive-through soup kitchens to blessing boxes to so many new community partnerships.
As we have pivoted and reset, we are constantly seeking ways to put our faith into action for the sake of restoring the beauty of God’s kingdom here on earth… just as it was on that sacred night in the little town of Bethlehem.
By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston