December 18, 2014
It is an ancient cry, a prayer of expectation. The language is Aramaic, what Jesus spoke. The earliest Christians awaited Jesus’ return with something approaching the hysterical. In Thessalonica people dropped everything. They stopped working. They waited. They prayed.
In these December days when sun’s warmth fades by the hour to the point where we can easily say that the sun gives no heat; these days when the low sun’s gorgeous light is in short supply and the solstice draws near, I can imagine our worried ancestors praying to the Lord for sunlight and heat to return.
Nowadays we do not worry about such things. Science has put our minds at ease. And faith undergirds our hope. Still, these are days of expectation. Ask any child who eyes the gift-wrapped boxes piling up under the Christmas tree. Ask anyone who has gone about the house or apartment peeking under beds, or slyly pushing aside the overcoats hanging in the closet. You never know what you might find. And if you happen upon some hidden treasure, how do you keep your mouth shut and your spirit still? Feigned nonchalance is a hard act to keep up.
Expectation is the heart of Advent. “Lo, He comes,” we sing. The calendar points to an accepted E.T.A. But His movements are not governed by our calendars. His comings and goings surprise us. Sent for you yesterday and here you come today, the saying goes. Or, maybe it’ll be tomorrow. And that is how it should be.
Expectant and waiting, our prayer today is the same as two millennia ago.
Marana tha! Our Lord, come!
The Rev. M. Dion Thompson is the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant, Baltimore.