It’s all about the waiting

It’s all about the waiting

It’s always nice when the rhythms of the day-to-day align with the rhythms of the church calendar. Such is the case with Advent. Eight years ago, I was due to have a baby around Christmas. I felt for Mary riding that donkey to Bethlehem more than ever that year! This year, my daily rhythm once again has a nice Advent overlay. You see, I finish my Master of Divinity from Knox Theological Seminary on December 15. And while connecting the anticipation for the birth of the Savior of the world to finishing a graduate degree might seem like a stretch, the themes of waiting, hope, and expectancy certainly ring true. So do the typical Christmas failings of busyness, procrastination, and distraction (I’ve done a lot more Christmas shopping than paper writing…). I hope that the feelings of jubilant celebration and the post-Christmas time of rest will feel similar as well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of waiting. For the past three years, I have been waiting for the day that I finally submitted my last paper for my degree. My family has been waiting for the day when I don’t need to steal away to do some reading or watch a lecture. A lot of my last season has been waiting for this upcoming moment. But waiting is hard. We’re not very good at it in our culture of immediacy. Far be it from the 21st-century American to wait more than two days for shipping on Amazon! We’ve all but lost the concept of waiting, as everything from groceries to Google is right at thumb tips on our phones.

And yet the season of Advent is all about waiting, remembering the long wait for the birth of a Savior, and recognizing our current wait for his return. Actually, when I step back and think about it, much of the Bible has this theme of waiting. Abraham waited for the birth of a son, God’s people waited for freedom from slavery, the prophets waited for the promised Messiah, Mary waited for the birth of Jesus. All of these biblical stories were of waiting for something that had been promised. They had an idea of what they were waiting for, and that gave them the faith to wait for the fulfillment of that promise. They nurtured that little seed of faith in a God who is true to his promises.

We often envision waiting to be a thumb-twiddling, passive experience. It certainly can be, if we let it. We can sit and watch the seconds tick down. Or we can be active in our season of wait. Immediately after the virgin Mary was told by the angel that she would give birth to Jesus, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was carrying her own little miracle. Together they celebrated, and laughed, and praised God, and prepared for their new arrivals. In a similar way, if we weren’t active during Advent, our season of wait, we won’t be prepared for Christmas. While we wait for Christmas, we celebrate, we laugh, we praise God, we prepare to host, we buy gifts for loved ones. Just like Mary prepared to receive the promised baby, we prepare to celebrate his birth.

We should do the same in our ongoing Advent, our ongoing wait for the coming of Jesus. We can nurture the seed of faith in a God who is true to his promises and watch it grow. We long for and hope for the day when the same Jesus who came as a baby will come again as a king ushering in a new kingdom. And so, we wait, and we wait together. We echo that Advent song, Come thou long expected Jesus!

Julie Hawkins
Director of Next Steps