Hope, Advent Week I

Garrett Mostowski
Friday, November 30, 2018
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This Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent. In our church’s tradition, during the first Sunday of Advent we will light a candle to symbolize our hopes for the future of this world. The hopes we have been waiting for all year or even the hopes we have been waiting for our entire lives. During this season, we ask ourselves to remember our hopes, and we ask, too, what are we waiting for in this world?

I want you to ask yourself that question: What are you waiting for? What is your hope? Go ahead, say it: What am I waiting for?

As a pastor, I encounter people from every walk of life, and a big part of my job is getting to know them and figuring out how I can serve them or if I can serve them at all. I’ve met people who have told me that they are just waiting to die (and sometimes they have good reasons for feeling the way they feel), and those people say that all they want to do is lie around all day, they just want to sleep or stare at a wall or be alone.

I’ve met others who are waiting to succeed at something. They are waiting to achieve whatever it is that they believe they can achieve, whatever they believe this world needs. Those people are active, and they are up and moving and trying to make happen whatever needs to happen to help them achieve their goals.

Both types of people — the ones waiting to die and the ones waiting to succeed — both of them are waiting, but their behavior is very different.

Waiting can sometimes be something we do while we wait at the doctor’s office or while picking our kids up for school, but we can wait in other ways, other big ways in life, too.

So, I ask again, What are you waiting for? Really, think about it. What are you waiting for?

Is it the next paycheck? Is it retirement? Is it the end of the work week? Is it lunch today? Is it the end of the holiday season and all its stress? Is it the end of a relationship? Is it some success? Is it a visit from a friend? Is it a phone call? Is it silence? Sleep? Happiness? What is it?

Whatever you are waiting on, that is probably your hope, and you are probably behaving in a certain way as you wait for that hope to come. The real question is, “Are you awake to that behavior? Are you aware of what your hopes are? Are you aware of what you are waiting for?”

In our church’s tradition, we celebrate the season of Advent by reflecting on what it means to wait, and we ask ourselves to reconsider what we are waiting for because sometimes we say that we hope for something, but we are not actually hoping for it, since our actions are not aligned with the hope we claim.

We often see this in churches. We say that we hope for love , joy and peace to fill the world, but sometimes, we — every church — do more to interrupt the love, joy and peace of the world than to help it come into the world. This is why Advent is such a special season. It is not just about Christmas. It is a time for us to stop and reflect as churches, as individuals, and even as a community.

What are you waiting for people of Miles City? What is your hope? What do you want to see in your lives? In this community?

If you think about it and find an answer, come see me, give me a call, or shoot me an email. I’m at the Presbyterian church on the corner of Montana and Main.

( Garrett Mostowski is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Miles City.)