Throughout the pages of the Bible, we find story after story of God’s people waiting: for justice, for God’s presence, for liberation, for a savior. God’s people are also repeatedly told to pay attention: to the movement of God’s Spirit, to injustice, to the coming Messiah. And then there’s Advent: a whole season dedicated to waiting and paying attention.
For those who follow the liturgical calendar, it’s that time of the year when we start over. Last Sunday we celebrated the reign of Christ, the ultimate triumph of good over evil, the promise that some day God will make things the way they are supposed to be. This Sunday, we’re offered a new beginning with Advent.
Sometimes my life is wonderfully in sync with the movement of the Christian year. Right now, that is so not the case. Today, I want to see the hope of a new beginning. Today, I don’t want to wait. I want to see justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Alas, it’s Advent.
Do you know anyone who personifies impatience? In 2014, we’re not good at waiting. We like our food fast, our messages instant, and our thoughts in 140 characters or less. For many of us, being patient doesn’t come naturally. It takes a whole lot of self-control. During Advent, we’re invited to practice. Two thousand years ago God’s people were waiting for the Messiah. Today God’s people wait with great hope for the day when God’s shalom will reign over all of creation. Today I wait for the day when all people are valued equally, and the longer I wait, the more that feeling of hopeless impatience slowly comes creeping back.
Instead of holding onto a go-to verse of comfort, today it’s a word: with. Advent is all about with. Immanuel: God with Us. With is a radical preposition. Advent is the time of the year when we remember that God walked among humanity as a human. We remember that God continues to walk with us today. Today I am clinging to with because it’s all I can do. Today I too easily see that things are not the way they are supposed to be, so I’m holding onto the promise that God actually cares about this broken world. I’m trusting that even when I don’t see it, God’s Spirit is on the move. I still have a lot of questions about justice and grace and forgiveness and what it means to wait with hopeful patience, but I’m trying. In the mean time I’m praying, and my prayer goes something like this, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”