Daily Reflection
December 16th, 2003
Steve Kline
Public Relations
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Zeph 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34
Matthew 21:28-32

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.
-- Psalm 34:19

What are you waiting for?

Usually, this question is a signal that we should speed up. This Advent season, while we wait prayerfully for the light, it would be good for us to slow down and answer the question.

What are you waiting for?

Today’s readings are shot through with thoughts and ruminations about faith, deceit, the difference between saying and doing, between word and work. It is plain that Jesus invites His listeners to think carefully of these things.

Each Advent, I am reminded of a wintry outing with friends when I was in high school. For three or four years running, we would travel to Springbrook State Park in central Iowa the day after Christmas and camp outside in tents until January 2. We liked to say we were always the last and the first people each year to camp in tents in the park. This rite took place one year in the midst of a siege of bitterly cold weather. One clear night, the temperature plunged to zero or below. I have never before or since felt so cold, so exposed or so desperate for the light of morning, the warming sun. The snow and frigid air outside made any thought of going out there to start a fire unthinkable. Sleepless, I shivered in my sleeping bag, watching through the tent flap for the first signs of light in the east. When at last the sun appeared, I felt as if I had been rescued.

This memory helps me travel through my cold and dark interior during Advent. I want to long for and be delirious with joy over Jesus’ coming in the way I ached for the sun to arrive in that snowy freezing campground. Often, however, I am like one or another of the sons in today’s Gospel.  Either I say “no” to Jesus, or I say “yes” but fail to follow through.

This Advent evening, when I am aware of the ways in which I reject Jesus’ invitation to join Him in His peace, I am brokenhearted; my spirit is crushed with remorse. I am waiting in the cold and dark for a sign of light in the sky. And through all of this, I can positively feel Jesus’ yearning for me, His love for me. Something like this ultimately must be what motivated the “obedient” son in the parable.

My Advent prayer is that today, Jesus will help me become more attuned to those things that move me to a faithful response to Him. And I pray that I will have some time to be quiet and answer the question, “What are you waiting for?”


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