This week marks the beginning of Advent, a season of waiting. So, it makes sense to begin with a Bible passage on waiting. We are continuing in the Hebrew Prophets, now moving to the little-known Book of Habakkuk. We are continuing, but we are also moving from the theme of God’s Plan for Peace to Faith in God’s Promises.
A Season of Waiting
Advent is a season when we focus on waiting. We remember the people of Israel waiting for the Messiah God promised them. We ourselves are waiting for the celebration of Christmas. And, we are waiting with the communion of saints for the coming of Christ in glory, ushering in God’s kingdom in its fullness. [Though, let’s be honest. Most of our congregations are just waiting for Christmas.]
In former times, the promise of God seemed to combine the promises of the advent of the Messiah with the Day of Judgment. God’s chosen leader would appear to judge the nations and usher in the period of shalom and justice for all. In the writings of the New Testament, we learn that these two events are separated by an unknown period of time. Jesus, God enfleshed, came over 2,000 years ago, and the Day of Judgment is yet to come. So, this month we remember those who waited for the one and await the other.
Waiting for Justice
The prophet Habakkuk looked around his community and saw nothing but injustice and violence. He knew about God’s plan for peace, God’s will that all will live with peace and justice. But, from his perspective, God wasn’t doing anything. Nothing was changing, things perhaps were even getting worse. Did God forget the promise? Did God decide not to act?
Habakkuk’s complaint can just as easily be our own. Our world is not much better than his. Injustice reigns throughout the world. Those who are vulnerable are mistreated. Those who are sick are denied health care. Those who are different are oppressed. Where is God in all of this? Why is there so much evil in the world?
God Is Listening
God responded to Habakkuk: I haven’t forgotten. That time will still come. For now, we can only wait. Waiting is hard. Waiting sucks. But waiting is a part of faith. We learn from the writer of Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith isn’t about what we see and experience. It’s about looking toward a promised future and trusting that it’s coming, no matter how long it takes. Faith requires waiting. And, faith requires action. We are, as many say, the hands and feet of Christ. God calls us to act against injustice right now.
What are you waiting for? The kingdom of God? Healing for yourself or others? Good news, or bad? Our free activity this week is called “Waiting Is Hard” and is drawn from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education curriculum (which can also be ordered as single lessons). It provides an experience of waiting that can be connected to the greater complaint and response found in Habakkuk. This activity may have been written for a cross+generational classroom setting, but it can easily be used in any setting with any group of people.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
Advent has arrived! If you had ordered Fall resources or are interested in just getting started, you can order your Winter resources now. The Winter quarter begins on the first Sunday of Advent and goes through Transfiguration Sunday. As soon as your payment is processed, you can download the Winter (and Spring) quarters immediately.
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!