(A message delivered at the Christmas Eve service at First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA)
“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!” It’s something you say when someone asks you a question and the answer is right on the tip of your brain but won’t quite make the leap to your mouth. You hear it when people are playing a quiz game or when a teacher asks a question or when someone is trying to guess what is in that funny looking package under the tree.
“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!”
That’s probably not the answer you would give were I to ask you, “What are we waiting for tonight?”
No, your initial and quick (and correct) reply would be “Jesus”; you wouldn’t need for me to wait for you to come up with that answer.
But what if I followed that question up with this one: “And what does that mean?”
“Wait, wait…don’t tell me!”
OK, I won’t. Perhaps you will allow me, though, to give you some things to think about as you formulate your answer.
Jesus is already and always here; we are waiting for one who is here and so maybe we need to consider our openness and availability to him. Behold, he stands at the door and knocks.
Jesus comes in both expected and unexpected ways; look for him where you expect to find him but always be ready to be surprised. People were looking for a Messiah to come but they were not looking for one like Jesus was.
Jesus came in a way that made him vulnerable; he was born as a helpless baby who grew up to be an adult who could have protected himself but chose not to do so. He is especially present today in the poor, the sick, the helpless, and the vulnerable.
Jesus will come again to make all things as they should be but even now he is moving things toward their completion. It’s a struggle to see it sometimes but we should be living with great faith and hope, not fear and pessimism.
Jesus came to bring peace—to bring wholeness and soundness in our relationships with God, with ourselves, and with each other. Such peace comes from God’s love working in and through us.
Let me ask one more question: “So how should we be living as we wait for the one who is already here?”
“Wait, wait…don’t tell me.”
OK—I’ll let Jesus himself tell you.
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
How then should we live? Let me at least tell you this much: