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Watching and Waiting…

November 26, 2014

Pub Dog

This cute old fellow was hanging out at a pub we visited in Dingle, Ireland. Pubs over in Ireland and the UK seem to be much more animal friendly than many places in the US. When he wasn’t busy posing for his picture, he wandered about greeting various customers and old friends. What was he watching and waiting for? Perhaps he was waiting for food to fall from the table (like Pixie and Buddy, our two dogs do at home)? Or perhaps he was watching and waiting for someone to pay attention to him and give him and extra pat or scratch. Regardless of what he was watching and waiting for, the old fellow seemed quite content to be in the present moment while he waited.

In Mark’s Gospel for the First Sunday in Advent (Mark 13:24-37), Jesus tells several stories about what many have come to call, “The End Times”. In the past, my sermon focus has seemed to be on watching and waiting. And how so often Christians get it wrong. Predicting whether or not the signs we are currently seeing are actually signs of the end of the age and the coming judgment. Yet, even Jesus himself, the Son of God, the Messiah, doesn’t know the day or the hour of the end of the age and the judgment.

This year, the Spirit seems to be leading me to look at the passage a bit differently and from another perspective. It seems She has been doing an awful lot of that lately! And that different perspective brings me back to my friend the pub dog. Even though it appeared that he was watching or waiting for something, the pub dog was fully engaged in the present moment. Perhaps we can take a lesson from him as well. Advent is a season of anticipation; a time of looking back in remembrance and looking ahead for Christ’s coming again in glory. Yet how do we live in the in between time?

That is, I believe, one of the central questions of our faith and even our very lives. Someone once said that there are two dates on a tombstone. The first date is the date you were born, and the second date is the date when you died. And in between the two dates is a dash. What is important, they said, is what you do with the dash between the two dates. Perhaps that is another way to look at this Advent season and the Gospel for Sunday. Between remembering his birth and looking for his coming again, what are we doing with our lives. My prayer is that we live fully in the present and seek to be a Christ light to whomever we meet. If we are doing that, then the day or the hour of Christ’s coming is immaterial. For we will be too busy sharing the light of Christ to be worried about a date or a time that even Jesus didn’t know!

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