“The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. They will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35:1-2a, Common English Bible) Read all of Isaiah 35 here.
When was the last time you got impatient? Was it at the store, standing in that long check-out line? Or was it sitting in traffic, wondering why the light is green and nobody is moving? Maybe it was with your children, or with your parents?
This time of year we are more prone to get impatient.
We are rushing and hurrying along to get everything in order. There are presents to be bought, ordered and wrapped. Then, there are travel plans to be made and meals to be cooked. And on top of all that, vacation time is coming so our work load increases.
And when we finally have a few moments of rest, there is someone or something that beckons our attention. And impatience sets in.
And we fuss.
The church season of Advent is focused on waiting and preparing. A lot of the preparing tends to focus on getting ready for Christmas. Is the house ready? Are all the presents bought? Is the church ready for Christmas Eve?
Often those who are homebound are forgotten.
Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3, Common English Bible)
Do you remember P. D. Eastman’s book Are You My Mother? The little bird hatches out of her egg and begins searching for her mother. She walks right past the mother bird because she does not recognize her or know what she looks like. She proceeds to ask different animals, “Are you my mother?”
We can identify with the little bird. There are times and moments in our lives when we search for Jesus. But, we don’t recognize him. We may walk right past him, not even knowing it is him.
In Matthew 11, John’s life has taken an unexpected turn. For John, he was imprisoned, and asks, “Are you my Jesus?” For us, we may be imprisoned in our need to be first or right. Or imprisoned in our fussing and complaning. Imprisoned in our busyness.
Or we are imprisoned by the holiday.
“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15b, NRSV)
One summer while in youth ministry, I had two different students have someone close to them pass away. For one student it was his grandfather, whom he was very close to who died right before the youth group went on the trip. The other student lost her father unexpectedly during the week.
I was a college student and had only been doing this youth ministry thing for a few years. There were no seminary classes yet completed that would have prepared me.
“But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Romans 10:14, NRSV)
How well do you know your neighbors? Can you name the people who live near you? How much do you know about them?
Kristin Schell realized that she did not know her neighbors as well as she should. Facing this dilemma of wanting to know and love her neighbors, Kristin put a turquoise picnic table under a tree in her front yard.