I have never liked waiting. Even as a child waiting for minutes seemed like hours. Waiting, while necessary, seemed like such a waste of time as I fretted and fidgeted. So it always seemed strange to me that we begin the Church year with this Advent season that is all about waiting. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and almost 30 years later he began his public ministry. We have only one gospel story about his youth. But it tells us this long period of waiting was preparation for him to fulfill his God given purpose.
In this era of minute rice, quick cash, express lanes and a desire for instant gratification waiting seems so much more difficult. It requires patience and, as Nancy has observed, my usual prayer about patience is “Lord, I need patience and I need it today. Amen.” Waiting and patience require practice to be done to good effect.
My grandmother, a clergy widow, was always highly active in her parish. But in her last few years health problems decreased her ability to be as active as she wanted. Her rector (a friend of mine) visited her and she began to complain about how useless she felt, and that she was simply waiting to die. Bruce began by reminding her that she has always taken a bus to work and that sometimes the bus would be quite late. “What did you do while you waited for the bus?” he asked. She told him she read. We don’t have a choice about waiting her reminded her but we do get to choose what we do as we wait.
Advent is about the wait to see the fulfillment of the transformation of God’s people and creation to become as God would have it. Humanity has waited long as each generation has had to learn to seek what it is that they really thirst and hunger for to fill that God shaped hole within. So what will we do as we wait? How can we better prepare ourselves to receive and live out that transformation – that scripture refers to as new life?
That we are waiting for all of creation to be transformed to that vision that Jesus and the prophets foretold is definite. What we will do as we wait is a choice we make day by day. Let us choose wisely and well to prepare ourselves to receive and share with others that new life we are offered.