Undergirding our weekly Sunday Advent themes are several implicit, transcendent Christian cornerstone experiences. In Advent, as God’s future comes graciously towards us and into view, we are called, literally, to wait. To receive God’s gifting on God’s terms in God’s good time. There is a profound historical tension here, as Advent overtly acknowledges both the First and Second Comings of Jesus into our world. Remember these Prayer Book eucharistic words from yesteryear, Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again? Advent hangs between that first implicit Christmas proclamation (basically insert Christ was born here!) and the Christ will come again, a time lag of….how long we truly do not know! In-between, the church waits, and Advent invites us to reflect on how exactly we wait. The verb “to wait” and its variant forms appears some 175 times in scripture, so this descriptor of Christian experience is obviously important. Some thoughts….
- Most often the verb to wait is paired with God as subject. Grammatically we end up most often waiting for the Lord, upon the Lord, or for the promises of the Lord to be fulfilled. This usage suggests that to wait is not a ambivalent nor a non-focused activity, but rather a profound statement of faith requiring an investment of internal fortitude. In this world we are used to such instantaneous and immediate gratification that the very notion of waiting for something or someone significant is utterly foreign! In the biblical world where time was measured and marked in eons, seasons, lifetimes and years, waiting was a daily existential companion of life. Evidently, to wait upon the Lord is to acknowledge that God is sovereign over all things including time and our lives.
- How we wait seems to be a matter of some significance. Scriptural adjectives modifying the verb to wait often include terms like hope, patience, silence, and words which closely align to our English word expectantly. Something akin to pro-active waiting (isn’t that an odd pairing?!) is what scripture seems to be describing. How often do we pair the experience of waiting with negative descriptors like frustrating, inconvenient, inconsiderate (a family-approved blog here so please feel free to fill in all the descriptors you use out loud waiting to check out, get your car washed or simply pick up a Starbucks coffee product!) and the like? What if the very act of pro-active waiting is somehow redemptive for us and reflective of God’s nature imbedded in the world?
- Waiting in scripture implies focus upon God over time, and often can be a more solitary activity. The Psalmist says, for instance, For God alone my soul in silence waits, from Him comes my help and my salvation. Advent waiting implies losing some companionship and frantic activity to be more focused upon God’s companionship and God’s divine activity in our lives.
- Most of the waiting in scripture involving God takes place in the context of prayer. Essentially prayer itself can be understood as a waiting upon the Lord! Waiting for God means we can speak to Him and listen for Him as we await him.
As we move through this second week of Advent…wait for it!!
- Have you ever, physically and literally, waited upon the Lord? What does this faithful pro-active waiting look like, specifically, for you this Advent?
- For what are you waiting? The Apostle Paul says to the Church in Rome that all creation groans in longing expectation for the revealing of the children of God? So…for what of God do you most eagerly groan for God to manifest/fulfill/gift?
- I used to complain about the unrelenting pace of this crazy holiday season. Now I find myself complaining about the more isolating, quieter home-based pace of viral Advent! I’m awful at patiently waiting…which is exactly why I need to do it! Make some time daily for simply sitting and waiting expectantly, hopefully and silently for the Lord. Don’t we have that time now?!