Thursday, 4 January 2018

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 31 Dec 2017 Sermon

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 31.12.17 Waiting on God

Simeon and Anna had great love for God, evident in that they would be prepared to wait so long for the fulfilment of His promises. (Not everyone is so patient.)  And when He finally does appear, they recognize Him immediately, even though there are no external phenomena to announce His presence. (Not everyone could recognize the Messiah just from seeing a baby!)

Their extraordinary love was fulfilled and rewarded.

God challenges us all to exercise patience in waiting on His holy will, and to develop the ability to discern His presence.

He wants us to search for Him (cf Song of Songs, the bride seeking the bridegroom).

God wants us to love Him, and will help us to understand what that requires.

Think of human lovers, like Romeo and Juliet. You would not have to tell Romeo that he should spend time with Juliet. He would want to do that anyway. He would not be trying to wriggle out of the obligation, or begrudging the time he gives Juliet.

God wants to be with us, but we may not want to be with Him.

Some people do want to be with God – such as Simeon and Anna, and all those we call saints, and us too, at least somewhat.

The saints inspire the rest of us to find out what they knew.

God has a sense of understatement. Not everything He does is accompanied by trumpets.

He is looking for people who are looking for Him, who are prepared to put in some effort in the quest to find Him.

Situations vacant: people who can love God, who can see below the surface, who can wait out a crisis without panic, who are willing to seek a greater desire.

If He is so desirable why do we have to be commanded to love Him? It is because we are beginners in the matter, and we have to be told what is good for us.

Eventually we can break free of the command. We don’t stop keeping it; it is just we no longer need to be told.

To love God on our part becomes as natural as for a bird to fly.

Taste and see the Lord is good (Ps 33, 8). It is a taste that is acquired. The command is only to set us in motion. The rest will look after itself.

A good start is to practise the discipline of prayer, learning from Simeon and Anna – they prayed day in and day out. And so must we.

Waiting for God to show Himself; waiting for Him to grant us an increasing desire to see Him, the sensitivity to recognise that presence, and the patience to keep waiting.

We need His help to do all this. He will stir up in us a love for Him, and such a desire that if we get to a certain point we can then go on further.

It might be painful at first, as we are pulled away from our worldly delights, but it will be great joy if we can battle through all the distractions.

We have it in us but it is jumbled. We have all sorts of good thoughts and resolutions (New Year and otherwise), but we are too disorganised to make it work.

What we have now is the reverse of the situation in Simeon and Anna’s time. They were in the Temple and God was not. Now He is in the church and the people are not!

He is waiting for them to come. And what are the people doing? As in the time of Noah they are eating and drinking, buying and selling (Mt 24, 38).

But we are here, and we bring what we have. We are not as humble or as faithful as we should be, but by the grace of God we will become so. We will learn what it means to love God, and we will do it.

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