What Time Is It?
Is it time yet? Soon? How much longer? Almost! Yes! NOW!
When I was a kid, a little acolyte attempting to stay awake at the late service on Christmas Eve, there were a group of us who would turn to the nearest adult on the altar (the priest was usually busy), and ask him/her what time is was. As we got closer and closer to midnight, Christmas Day, we would get more and more excited. The excitement wasn't about how close the end of the service was...or how soon we would be able to get home to open Christmas presents...it was wanting to know if THAT moment was here, and if it wasn't then just how long would we have to wait?
And then, it would come...that moment when the lay reader would lift his or her cuff and look at their watch...IT WAS TIME!.
Throughout the sanctuary, the word would rush, from mouth-to-mouth and whispered from ear-to-ear: "Merry Christmas!" The closer we could get to that very moment when the one day ended and the other began made the proclamation that much more special to us. It was that moment we had waited for, had been praying for, and now that moment was/is...now.
As people of faith, we have to grow accustomed to waiting on God. We even have a liturgical season set apart exclusively for just that purpose. That it opens the year, if the FIRST season, is not something that lacks import. As well, that it presages the celebration of the Incarnation itself is more than appropriate. As followers of the living Christ, we have to be willing to wait for the moment, THAT moment when not only is God revealed to us, but that God is also now acting upon the promises given to us all from the beginning of time.
For the people reading and hearing Zechariah? The world is now at rest. The nations have been placed under God's authority. God's justice is rampant. And now? It is time? Yes. It is time for Jerusalem, and the Temple, to be restored.
For the Psalmist? It is TIME...and the empty, hollow and inert idols of the nations are being revealed as mute, false. The time for praising the Lord is now, the Lord's might is resting on the nation, the people are summoned to the sanctuary...it is time to proclaim and live into the moment God has given and set aside for us to be restored. Don't hold back....
And for the community hearing the Gospel according to Mark?
We return to the question...it is time? How will we know it? When will it come. It will come, Jesus assures us. Keep watch. Stay awake...pay attention. The time will arrive, and you will see it.
That's why we kept checking our watches on Christmas Eve. We wanted to know the moment, we didn't want to miss the chance to be aware, awake and read to meet Jesus and to celebrate God keeping God's promises to God's people and the universe. Just the few last clicks, tics, tocks and beeps...and then....
Then....what will be soon...Is NOW!