We are in a serious waiting pattern imposed by a deadly virus. This is not really voluntary. It is waiting demanded by safety and care for one another. This is not the same as Advent waiting.
There must be a difference in how we wait for those things that are a sure promise of satisfaction as opposed to those things that are of duty, responsibility, or necessity. In the world we are creating today, waiting doesn’t seem to be an attribute that we cultivate very well. We seem to be unable to anticipate good things with deliberate relish and joy. I’m reminded of children’s cry from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” We don’t seem to find satisfaction in waiting, in anticipating, in expecting. Of course, imposed waiting is a different burden than a spiritual, willing kind of waiting.
In Advent we wait in joyful expectation for the coming of Jesus. It is a waiting filled with the certain understanding that God’s promise to reconcile the whole world will be fulfilled. It is a waiting full of awesome anticipation for the realization of God’s hope for us. The church sets aside these four weeks to put us in the mind of a people who wait. We are in the mind of a people who wait for the power of our loving God to come into the world and forever change it. It happened at the birth of Jesus. God’s promise is being fulfilled and continues to be revealed as we wait again for Jesus to return.
It is in this waiting – waiting for the Second Coming – that we are called to wait in ways that will hasten the kingdom.
Some of the same questions apply. How do we enjoy the companions with whom we wait? Are we waiting with great and joyful expectation? What to do as we wait?
Jesus has taught us by his life and teaching how to wait and what to do while we wait for his return. He taught us by his devotion to his conviction for justice and peace. He showed us by his willingness to be in true relationship with the powerful and the poor. He showed us by his willingness to notice those who go unnoticed; to forgive those who seem unforgivable; to socialize with those who are shunned. Jesus reached out to anyone and everyone so that all felt satisfied and fed physically and spiritually.
We Christians are in a constant Advent, constant waiting for the Christ to come again. It is in our waiting that we have the opportunity to use the gift of Love and Compassion that has been given us in the birth of Jesus. What we are called to do in our waiting is what Jesus taught us. Love one another. Bring peace into the world. Have compassion for all. Act so that justice prevails. Leave no one out.
And wait with the absolute certainty of the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to each of us and to the world.