Entering Advent: Hurry Up and Wait!
Lectionary readings for November 29, 2015:
Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21: 25-36
Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle C) and guidance on using the lectionary.
“Unto you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.” Ps 25:1, 2
“Hurry up and wait!” Usually this statement is laced with cynicism when we have rushed to the airport only to discover that our flight has been delayed or we have scurried out the door only to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the expressway. Full of irony, it captures the frustration we feel when we realize that any moments we might have gained in all our hurrying have now been lost as we find ourselves going nowhere. Usually, we do not see this as a good thing.
Waiting on Purpose
Advent, however, invites us into an entirely different experience with waiting. During this season of anticipation and longing for the coming of Christ, we can actually choose to hurry up and wait. Rather than allowing our waiting to be entirely governed by external forces, we can actually create times of stillness for watching and praying and waiting on God in the places that feel empty and dark, devoid of meaning.
When circumstances do force us to wait, we can lean in and lift up our souls to the One whom we trust to do good things in and through us. Rather than succumbing to the inevitable frustration, we can allow ourselves to be changed by looking and loving and praying in whatever circumstance is causing us to wait, finding the presence of Christ there.
Thank You for the Waiting Time
Everyone involved in the events surrounding the birth of Jesus was waiting and watching for something. Mary and Joseph were waiting to be married. Elizabeth was waiting for a baby. Zechariah was waiting to regain his ability to speak. Simeon and Anna had been waiting to see the Messiah. The wise men had been watching for a special star. And all were changed—as much by the process of waiting as by the fulfillment of what they had been longing for. This is their story and it is ours as well.
If we can wrap our heads around the transformative possibilities contained within this impossible season, we might discover that it is God who keeps us waiting for reasons only he knows. And if we enter into this season with trust and with awe, we might even find ourselves thanking God for the many gifts this waiting time has to offer.
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time
want us to wait
for the right time in which to discover
who we are, where we must go,
who will be with us, and what we must do.
So thank you…for the waiting time.
You keep us looking.
You, the God of all peace,
want us to look in the right and wrong places
for signs of hope,
for people who are hopeless,
for visions of a better world that will appear
among the disappointments of the world we know.
So thank you…for the looking time.
You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is love,
Wants us to be like you—
to love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;
to love without jealousy or design or threat;
and, most difficult of all,
to love ourselves.
So thank you…for the loving time.
And in all this,
You keep us.
Through hard questions with no easy answers;
through failing where we had hoped to succeed
and making an impact where we felt we were useless;
through patience and the dreams and love of others;
and through Jesus Christ and his Spirit,
you keep us.
So thank you…for the keeping time,
and for now,
Iona Worship Book, 1998
©Ruth Haley Barton. 2015. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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