“Sorrowing wanderers, in darkness yet dwelling,
dawned has the day of a radiance excelling,
death’s deepest shadows forever dispelling.
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon!”
ELW Hymn # 243.
The city rumbles, jumbles and surges along streets, sidewalks and avenues all around. A thousand thousand transactions, interactions, contentions and resolutions are taking place at once. Life flows on.
The clamor outside is banished from this small room. We sit in half-light, waiting. We have waited for hours. We have waited for days. How long can this go on? Away from our homes, away from our jobs, away from the outside world, only the clock on the wall tells us the passing of minutes after minutes. In this small room we wait.
It is a grueling marathon of waiting. Conversation flows in hushed tones, recollections of days gone by, uncertainty about days to come. It is not all gloom. Muted laughter over some remembered episode sprinkles the talk. A catch in the throat, a tear in the eye, a comforting word, a consoling pat on the hand fills the time. Together we wait.
In the center of the room, in a hospital bed flanked by banks of machines switched off and silent, lies a man. He is a husband of decades, beloved father of children. Reduced today to a form unrecognized save through eyes of love that see past gaunt face, limp limbs and labored breath to what once was. We gather round him now. With him we wait.
The promise is claimed, the word offered that assures reunion with loved ones and eternal life that baptism marked many years before. The promise of the Day of the Lord to come and eternity’s dawn is in every mind. When will that day come? Harder to see is the presence of the Lord in this day. Waiting hearts cry, “Will the Lord come soon?” Our dim vision is never the measure of the presence of the promised One. He is the Savior who was, who is and who is to come. Though unseen he waits with us here, now. Praying, pleading, we wait.
In Advent as we wait expectantly for the birth of our Savior, so often we only know the joyful songs. The uplifting hymns we welcome this time of year. But sometimes Advent’s song is in minor key. Sometimes the Advent song is a bittersweet plea for Christ’s presence in the darkness. Our hope is not only for the Lord who comes in glory, not only for the babe born in Bethlehem. We await the promised presence of Emmanuel, God’s love and peace with us in the midst of today’s dark time of waiting.
There are people who feel left out of the holiday joys, for them the glad carols ring hollow. In Advent we sing with them their song of expectant waiting. We remember that the Christ we await is in our midst at every hour. With Christ beside us we wait.
Savior we pray that as we await your coming as ruler of eternity, as word made flesh in a Bethlehem manger, we may also know your presence with us each hour that we wait. Be with those whose waiting seems endless. Show us your presence when the longing is greatest. Speak to our hearts in sighs of the Spirit that whisper in our waiting hearts “Dawned has the day of a radiance excelling, death’s deepest shadows forever dispelling. Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon!“ Amen! Come Lord Jesus.
John 14: 18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live.
Rev. Eric Kutzli