“What are you waiting for?” It’s a question that we might be asked by a stranger as we hold up a grocery story line or to a friend who we want to encourage to step out in faith. It’s normally a question that implies choosing to wait as the lesser choice. Advent, on the other hand, is a time in which we are encouraged to wait. So I’d like to propose we reword the question and ask ourselves, “Who are we waiting for?” When followers of Jesus talk about waiting in the season of Advent, they mean waiting on the appearing of the Christ child as well as the present state of humanity as we wait on the ultimate return of Christ. So I find it helpful to ask the question of myself, “Who am I waiting for?” Inherent in the act of waiting for someone is the expectation that that person’s arrival will change our present circumstances, either for good or for ill.
Many of you will be travelling to see family and friends in this season and may have the opportunity to experience the anticipation that builds from waiting for a loved ones arrival at the airport. I lived overseas for many years and when I was able to fly back to the US and see my family it was a very joyful occasion. I would often be met with tight hugs from my niece and nephew, colorful paper signs and happy tears. On the flight over, and especially once I touched down, I couldn’t help smiling just thinking about who was greeting me, who had been waiting for me. Not all of us will have family to wait for this year, and loneliness is a significant part of this season for many people. Yet, all of us have Jesus waiting on a daily basis to meet with us, to sing over us, continually interceding in prayer for us. The King of Kings upon whom we wait this Advent Season is the Divine bearer of hope, compassion, justice, mercy and strength. He will not tarry. As Revelation reminds us, He is coming soon.
Robert Barron puts it beautifully in his Lenten devotional when he says, “The entire Bible ends on a note not so much of triumph and completion as longing and expectation: “Come, Lord Jesus.” From the very beginning of the Christian dispensation, followers of the risen Jesus have been waiting. Paul, Augustine, Chrysostom, Agnes, Thomas Aquinas, Clare, Francis, John Henry Newman and Simone Weil have all waited for the Second Coming and have hence all been Advent people. During this season let us join them, turning our eyes and hearts upward and praying, “Ich warte, ich warte.” (I’m waiting, I’m waiting)
As we are reminded in the Christ child, He has not left us alone or destined to death, but has intervened to write for us, and the world, a new story of hope. What if we chose to see traffic jams and annoyingly long lines as Divine invitations to practice waiting. All of us will be ‘waiting’ on the Lord for something particular to us this Season. What is it that you believe about the One who is coming? Who is He to you? The truth is, He is so worthy of waiting! He is more than worthy of our quieted attention and focus, especially in the midst of the Christmas crazy. He is more than enough for whatever you and I lack. Hallelujah, He has come and is coming!