Preparing for Worship – LeAnn Hampton.
Today (November 27) is the first Sunday of Advent, a time of preparation and waiting for the birth of Jesus. Waiting is difficult for most of us; in fact, I’ve never known anyone who lists waiting as a personality strength.
We all have the shared experience of waiting, especially over the past months as we longed for the announcement of our new senior pastor. Whether we realize it or not, we have choices about how we wait. A few weeks ago, at a Wednesday evening Wilshire prekindergarten (4-year-old) choir rehearsal, Alison Wingfield, our director, announced we were starting to learn music for Christmas. One of our members, Ana Boyd, immediately clapped her hands and, with her eyes dancing, shared about how each day leading up to Christmas, she would get to open a little envelope to take out a surprise. Breathlessly she described the countdown to Christmas Eve. With excitement evident on her face, she announced, “Then it’s CHRISTMAS!” For Ana, waiting brings joy.
What about the rest of us? How are we choosing to experience our time of waiting during Advent? Are we like Ana, anticipating joy and hope each day, or are we feeling weary, tired and disappointed with life? Our passage from Isaiah 2:1–5 paints a picture for us about waiting with hope when the situations we’re encountering bring us nothing but despair. In this passage, we’re told about the days to come — a time when all learn the word of the Lord and seek peace and the good of all. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.”
While this sounds almost too good to be true, we realize every day we see signs of God’s quiet work in transforming the world. It may be in the healing of fractured relationships, unexpected generosity of a friend or neighbor, or signs of slowly changing systems that help everyone experience justice and dignity. The signs may not be as obvious as Ana’s description of daily surprises, but they are evidence of joy and God’s work still happening in our world.
As we worship together today, may we choose joyful hope as we learn to walk in the light of the Lord.
— LeAnn Hampton