(This post first appeared on HuffPost Blogs: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/advent-wait_us_5a1cb465e4b07bcab2c6996a)
Recently my four year old needed to use the bathroom while we were out to lunch. There was a wait for the men’s room and no line for the women’s. He did the expedient thing and used the women’s.
Waiting is seldom fun. We all have better things to do than to wait in line or be stuck in traffic or wait for the cable guy to show up.
Sometimes our impatience is a result of the hurry we are in. Sometimes, like my son, we need to GO RIGHT NOW. Sometimes we think waiting is beneath us. Sometimes it is simply because waiting is dull and life-sucking.
“Wait” is a difficult word to hear in our right now world.
Wait for the light to change. Wait for the check to clear. Wait for the hour hand to hit 5 o’clock. Wait for the elevator to come. Wait for a text response (we know you saw it).
Wait for the pregnancy test to reveal news or no news. Wait for the uncomfortable truth to finally be revealed. Wait for our fairy tale ending. Wait for the other shoe to drop. Wait until next year, next time.
Wait for wrongs to be made right. Wait for things like cancer and murder and terror and sexual assault to be swallowed up forever. Wait for the chains of addiction to be broken. Wait for our sons and daughters to come home. Wait for answers to long-prayed prayers.
Wait for the darkness to give way to light.
We wait in the tension of the already and the not yet. We wait because, as my wife will preach this Sunday, Christ has come and Christ will come again.
Christ has come. His Kingdom has been inaugurated. It is here amongst us, close enough to touch. And Christ is coming again. His Kingdom is not yet fully realized, but will be one day. He will make all things new.
And until that happens, we wait.
But we do not wait idly.
This type of waiting is about preparation. We need not sit in our pews and shrug our shoulders at a struggling world. We actively work and pursue and seek God’s Kingdom in our hearts and on earth as it is in heaven.
We do all we can and cry out to God for the rest. In our waiting we hope and lament and ache and pray for all that is broken to be mended. In our waiting we do not despair. In our waiting we trust that God is up to something.
Because this type of waiting is also about expectation.
In Advent the Church waits in expectation, in anticipation that Christ is coming. That this newborn babe in a manger is going to do a new thing in us and a new thing in the world. We wait with bated-breath for our long expected Jesus who brings good news of great joy for all people.
And we await his return. For the day when all waiting will be banished forever. Hallelujah. When we finally and fully find our rest in him.
This wait will not last forever, but this wait is worth it.
Waiting reminds us that we are not in charge. It reminds us that we don’t know best. This wait instills in us a very real need for our God. For Someone to come and fix all that we have broken. To make right all that is bent within and around us.
So this year don’t skip the line. Don’t hurry past. Don’t jump to the end. Don’t grab for microwave answers.
Prepare. Expect. Long. Anticipate. Hope.
Christ has come and Christ is coming again. I’m staking all I have on that. I’m here hoping and waiting for Christ to come in our hearts and homes, in our marriages and in our neighborhoods and in our public squares and perhaps even in our churches. I am waiting and trusting for the faithful love of God to rule and reign in all places and people.
The psalmist says it best:
I cry out to you from the depths, Lord— my Lord, listen to my voice! Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy! If you kept track of sins, Lord— my Lord, who would stand a chance? But forgiveness is with you— that’s why you are honored.
I hope, Lord. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise. My whole being waits for my Lord— more than the night watch waits for morning; yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
Israel, wait for the Lord! Because faithful love is with the Lord; because great redemption is with our God! He is the one who will redeem Israel from all its sin.
(Psalm 130, Common English Bible)