Advent 2B Lectionary Passage: 2 Peter 3: 8-9 (10-15)
8But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
Now as patient as the writer of this passage sounds, it is likely that he or she (yes, I think there could have been some she’s writing!) probably assumed that Jesus’ return was imminent (as in weeks or months). In fact, my guess is that most of those that walked the earth in the time of Jesus and the years after would be absolutely stunned and perhaps downright flabbergasted that you and I sit here today having the same discussion. They assumed that Jesus was returning in their lifetime and that this return entailed Jesus just showing up and making everything right. But if that had happened, think about what humanity would have missed!
I used to really wonder what Jesus’ return would look like. I mean is he going to return to Bethlehem? Maybe this time he’ll show up in Paris or New York City or Moscow, Russia. Maybe Australia. Or Tahiti. Or perhaps he’ll go for a bit of drama and plop down in the middle of the Super Bowl or something. OR…(and hear me out here) what if the “return” that Jesus spoke about has already happened? I mean, have you read the account of Pentecost? Remember the rush of violent wind and the Holy Spirit that filled all who were there. Remember the quote from the prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…”
The truth is that we don’t know what will happen or when it will happen or, for that matter, if the Coming that Jesus talked about has already happened. The full transformation of all of Creation will happen when it will happen. And it will look EXACTLY like God envisioned it will look. God’s time is God’s time. And in God’s time, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. And for us? We wait.
But lest you think your waiting is just sitting around dreaming of redemption and re-creation and twiddling your thumbs, you need to remember that you are Spirit-filled. And as those who are Spirit-filled, we need to realize that WE are the ones that God is calling now. WE are the ones that God is filling and gathering and sending. WE are the ones that are supposed to be peacemaking and justice-building. WE are the ones that are called to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. WE are the ones that are called to wipe out racism and welcome those who are excluded. WE are the ones who are called to be Christ on earth. So while you wait for God’s time for the full redemption of Creation to come to be, as one who is Spirit-filled, you are called to live AS IF it’s already here.
In this Season of Advent as we practice holy waiting, when we both remember those who looked for the coming of the Messiah so long ago and look ahead for Christ’s coming into our own lives, we are also reminded to live as if it’s already come to be. Because if everyone lived AS IF it was here, as if the world was transformed into what it was meant to be, then it would already be. The truth is, this IS God’s time. It’s ALL God’s time. And we are smack dab in the middle of it. We wait for the darkness to be pushed away by the light but in the meantime, we need to do a little of our own darkness-pushing. God is waiting for us to respond, for us to proclaim God’s love and mercy, for us to live “as if”—as if the coming of the Lord is now, as if God’s Spirit has already spilled into the earth, as if justice and righteousness was the only way, and as if we knew no other way to live.
Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only [they] who see, take off [their] shoes—the rest sit around it and pluck blueberries. (Elizabeth Barret Browning, from “Aurora Leigh”)
Grace and Peace,