Advent is in our calendar for 4 Sundays, and we are intended to learn something from it. The rest of the Christian world is racing toward Christmas, but those of us who follow this liturgical calendar are waiting, making preparations, lighting one candle at a time. We are being “forced” to slow down, take time to think about what it means to wait for Christ to come as a baby in a manger, as a victorious king at the end of time, and through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, now, today. And that’s an important witness to our faith, our hope in Christ. It reminds us of the “now and not yet” of God’s kingdom, what we pray for in the Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is (present tense) in heaven.”
So, what can be good about waiting? It gives us time and opportunity to prepare for what comes next. It reminds us we are not in control (which may be what is so hard about it), and that pushes us to acknowledge the One who is in control. Waiting can, paradoxically, feed our faith. Even as we sigh, “How long, O Lord,” we, like the psalmist, find ourselves turning to the One we can trust. We give up our illusions of control and are reminded that “this is not in our hands.” We have the promises of God that we will never be left alone and without resources, for God is always with us. Those resources may show up in forms we don’t immediately recognize, and sometimes we are given what we don’t think we want, but we can trust God will “do more than we can ask or imagine.” I’ve learned through hard experience that God’s plan is always better than anything we can come up with on our own.
So, as we wait for Christmas, as we wait for the construction on our building to be complete, as we wait for New Vision, New Hope! to be rescheduled, as we wait for word on a loved one’s condition, as we wait for the pain of grief and loss to abate a little, as we wait for the arrival of friends and family members to celebrate the holiday with, let’s remember to slow down, to acknowledge God’s presence in our lives and loves, and to turn to that for the source of our strength, and our hope. And just maybe we will find ourselves blessed with fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and ultimately patience.
A blessed Advent to you all, in the faith and hope of Jesus Christ.