As my due date came and went, and Advent approached, waiting took on a whole new meaning. Thinking that any minute now my son would come squalling into my arms gave me a existential perspective on Israel’s experience of waiting for the Messiah.
Who likes to wait? Not too many people that I know. During the centuries of the Old Testament, and the hundreds of years between the Old Testament and the birth of Christ, surely there were people ready to give up. If God was really going to send a Savior, why was he waiting so long? Wasn’t the world enough of a mess yet?
God’s people in the Old Testament could trust his promises as surely as that baby was kicking my ribs. They could no more choose not to be God’s people than I could insist I was not pregnant. Yet the waiting was prolonged.
So Advent has begun anew. Again we step into the drama of waiting for God to act. We have the advantage of knowing that God did indeed send his Son to share our flesh, and still we are impatient. While the lights go on and the trees go up around me, and the crowds invade my usual casual shopping venues, I’m holding out. Holding off on the Christmas music. Holding off on the wrapping paper, on the poinsettias. Even holding off on the shopping.
And in that space, resolutely carved out of the pressures of my culture, I wait. Out of choice. Willingly.
Henri Nouwen wrote, “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
May Advent be for me, and for you, a time of patience, of longing, of living in the fulness of God’s grace for this time—whatever it is for you—so that we will not miss the glory that God will make manifest to us.