Mark 13:24-37

Advent is a strange time of year. It is all the stranger with all the commotion about black Friday, is it now just black November. The world seems to scream Christmas already and yet here we come to this strange church and talk about watching, waiting, and slowing down. Our scriptures for the past few weeks have echoed this call. Today it is keep awake, watch for the signs, just as you would observe the signs on the fig tree.

There is a spiritual practice to be had in waiting. In not putting up the greens and trees and bobbled that would signify Christ has come. So much in our world tells us things are easy, Christmas has come, there was no waiting, no dread at answering the calls of God to accept a babe in your womb while unmarried, to accept a woman, pregnant and the child is not yours. There was no pain and anguish that went on between Mary and Joseph for this gift from above. Waiting is not such a blessed, easy thing in this case.

If we look at all that has gone on this past week, as the news off the grand jury came out for Ferguson and what that has meant to the people who live there, waiting takes on news meaning. As we read this apocalyptic literature and we wait. Wait for true justice to come, where we won't be judged by the color of our skin, or gender for our truthfulness of our experience in the world. We wait for peace to come, a peace that passes our understanding and comes in between the sighs too deep for words. We wait for the kingdom of God on this earth where we all will be one, where we will care for all who come to our door. We wait for the promised vision of living in that perfect world of harmony and it all begins with watching and waiting.

Today we light the candle of hope on the advent wreath. Today this holds so much for us because hope is what keeps us sustained in waiting. We hope for something more, something better. We hope because Mary and Joseph chose to hope that this burden of shame would become someone new, someone who would be the hope of the world. The significance of this hope at advent is that we remain hopeful even during the worst of circumstances.

In Mark Jesus' words come just before his arrest, trail, and crucifixion. Hope for this child seems beaten. Yet we know that the hard wood of the manger meets the wood of the cross and is born again in an empty tomb. This is the hope of the gospel. Even when it all seems impossible the simplest acts are the ones that bear hope. The hope of people who chose to clean up their neighborhood on Thanksgiving day, the hope of those who stood together to protect businesses during the rioting, the hope born of tears in a small business owner whose place was destroyed and people gave to help her rebuild. How will we choose toy plant the seeds of hope?