Originally Written 12/6/09
Advent is a season of waiting – particularly for those who love Christmas. And our life is a time of waiting at times. And this worth bothers us – “wait”. We don’t like it, it makes us feel like there is nothing we can do but “wait”.
But waiting is scripture – think of how many times we are told to “Wait on the Lord”. Too often we use the word wait to be a passive verb – “there’s nothing we can do, so we might as well wait..” We use it to tell people we’re “waiting for the train” or “sitting in the waiting room.” There is no sense of urgency or involvement, we merely “wait.” Have you ever been late someplace and someone looks at you in a rather disapproving manner and says, “I’ve been waiting for you!” (what they mean is, “You’ve wasted my time because I’ve gotten nothing done while I’ve been waiting for you.”)
But waiting can also be active – when we go out to eat the servers “wait” on us. They are doing all sorts of work – taking orders, making preparations for the delivery of our food, etc. Here “wait” is not in any way passive or frustrating, but active and involved. I would offer it’s this type of “waiting” that the Bible speaks about when it uses the term “wait on the Lord”. When we “wait” during Advent for Christmas to come, it’s not a passive, boring activity (as Dr. Seuss would have us avoid in Oh the Places You’ll Go), but an active and urgent act.
Read what Henri Nouwen wrote about waiting & community:
“The whole meaning of the Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for that which we have already seen. Christian community is the place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously, so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us that allows us to live in this world without being seduced constantly by despair, lostnes, and darkness…
“Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someoen wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the door-bell?
“Simone Weil, a Jewish writer, said, ‘Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.’ When Jesus speaks about the end of time, he speaks precisely about the importance of waiting….Jesus says you must stand ready, stay awake, stay tuned to the word of God, so that you will survive all that is going to happen and be able to stand confidently (con-fide, with trust) in the presence of God together in community (see Matthew 24). That is the attitude of waiting that allows us to be peole who can live in avery chaotic world and survive spiritually.”
We wait together to urge and encourage each other on. We wait together to lift each other up and help each other down the road. That’s the importance of living in Christian community.