Wednesday 9th December – Earth was Waiting Spent and Restless
This year our nations, with the rest of the world, had a stark lesson in waiting – having to wait indoors, waiting for the pandemic to pass, waiting for infection rates to fall. Advent is about waiting, something we find difficult.
Romans 8: 18-25
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in[a] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Earth Was Waiting
Walter C Smith b1824
You can hear the hymn sung here
EARTH was waiting, spent and restless,
With a mingled hope and fear;
And the faithful few were sighing,
“Surely, Lord, the day is near;
The desire of all the nations,
It is time He should appear.”
Then the spirit of the Highest
On a virgin meek came down,
And He burdened her with blessing,
And He pained her with renown;
For she bare the Lord’s Anointed
For His cross and for His crown.
Earth for Him had groaned and travailed,
Since the ages first began;
For in Him was hid the secret
That through all the ages ran—
Son of Mary, Son of David,
Son of God, and Son of Man.
We all of us live in tension between the harsh realities of our lives and the final unveiling of God’s purposes. It is an intensely peculiar experience. And Paul captures it to a tee.
He starts by setting our lives in the context of creation as a whole. The whole of creation, which includes all sub-human life, is groaning in frustration. It is not able to fulfil the purpose of its existence. It was created to glorify God, but is unable to do so fully so long as we human beings fail to play our part. Human beings were created to be stewards of creation but we have used and abused it for our own purposes.
Creation can, however, be set free. That painful state of affairs will yet have a good outcome. As in childbirth, the labour may be long, but the turmoil and anguish that surrounds it will ultimately be productive.
As Christians we also groan. We too have still to be liberated. But in all the frustrations and suffering of the present, we have been given the Spirit as a foretaste and pledge of the glory that is to come. We know that we have already been saved through Christ, but we know too that we still have to wait to enjoy that salvation to the full. And so we wait eagerly, not just in resigned suffering, or in anguished groaning, but in steadfast hope. And in that hope, we wait in patience.
Ever living and ever loving God,
we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit,
And for the fulness of your glory revealed in Jesus Christ.
Give us grace
to be bold in standing for what is right,
to endure whatever suffering comes our way,
and to wait with steadfast patience,
sure in the hope of yet more glorious days to come.
Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Saviour. Amen