“Be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return.”
Candle Lighter: “Take courage,...”
Response: “…for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Scripture: James 5:7-8
7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
When I was a little boy, my piano teacher, Mrs. Byrnes, gave me an advent calendar which had little doors that you opened each day beginning on December 1st. The first year I had it, I could hardly wait for the next day to come to see what was behind the little door! Waiting was so hard. It seemed like Christmas Day would never get here. The next year I kind of cheated…well, not actually. You see the little doors didn’t go quite as shut and if I peaked in from the side and looked through the crack, I could get a glimpse of what might be behind the door and some I could remember from the year before. I never actually touched anything, so I figured it wasn’t exactly cheating! No matter how you cut it, waiting for anything is hard. As I look in the Scriptures, there were many, many people who often had to wait, and many times it was for years. Jesus’ brother encourages the Jewish Christians, who are under difficult persecution from the world in which they live, to be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Here we are some 2,000 years later still waiting. But from the time of the covenant God made with Abraham, it was 2,000 years until the promised Messiah arrived. That was a long wait in earthly time, but not in Godly time! A day is as a thousand years. As a farmer, I can identify with James’ comments about waiting for rains. In fact, in my prayer book, I have down praying for rains at the right time for the crops. And it is true we eagerly await the harvest, which was completed last week as I write this, to see how the crops did. The good thing is that while farmers do the hard work in the field, it ultimately is up to the Lord on how this year’s crops do. (This was a good year! Thank you, Lord!) At the core of waiting is faith and trust. The return of the Lord is in his hands. In that, we can rest. Take courage in the meantime. The present circumstances will pass. Like peeking through the crack in my advent calendar doors to see what was coming next, the prophets of the Bible gave us clues as to what was coming next. That glorious Christmas Day did arrive, and I got to open both stable doors and there he was! Jesus in the manger! The waiting was over. At some point in the future, the doors of heaven will open and there he will be, not in a manger, but on a throne, as Jesus, King of kings and the Lord of lords. The waiting will be over! Hallelujah!
Music: “Hallelujah Chorus” Atlanta Symphony Chorus Robert Shaw
Prayer: An Evening Prayer
Almighty God, in this hour of quiet I seek communion with Thee. From the fret and fever of the day’s business, from the world’s discordant noises, from the praise and blame of people, from the confused thoughts and vain imaginations of my own heart, I would now turn aside and seek the quietness of Thy presence. All day long have I toiled and striven; but now, in stillness of heart and in the clear light of Thine eternity, I would ponder the pattern my life has been weaving. May there fall upon me now, O God, a great sense of Thy power and Thy glory, so that I may see all earthly things in their true measure. Grant to me patience. Let me not be ignorant of this great thing, that one day is with Thee as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. I am content, O Father, to leave my life in Thy hands, believing that the very hairs upon my head are numbered by Thee. I am content to give over my will to Thy control, believing that I can find in Thee a righteousness that I could never have won for myself. I am content to leave all my dear ones to Thy care, believing that Thy love for them is greater than my own. I am content to leave in Thy hands the causes of truth and of justice, and the coming of Thy Kingdom in the hearts of men, believing that my ardour for them is but a feeble shadow of Thy purpose. To Thee O God, be glory forever.
― A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie, p.27, altered DS
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