Those of you who have raised children—and/or now have grandchildren—are familiar with the refrain, “Are we there yet?” Even a short road trip can become an annoying trial, if the kids in the car keep asking that dreaded question. It can get to the point where, even if we think we know the answer, we don’t want to say so: who knows what might happen in the intervening period of time?
Christians have a version of this phenomenon in our traditions—with a twist. It is known as “Advent,” but instead of constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” Christians are invited to lean into the waiting. For four Sundays before Christmas Day, Christians reflect on what it means to our lives that we wait for the birth of Jesus.
In the Bible, the question that often gets asked is, “How long, O Lord?” We are in good company with our spiritual ancestors when we wonder about the time it might take before something for which we wait will arrive. Five hundred years went by between the Jews’ return from exile and the birth of Jesus—five hundred years! Several times, the Psalmist laments with this pleading question, “How long, O Lord?”
The fall campaign, “OUR NEXT CHAPTER!” sought to emphasize how waiting can be helpful. We know that Jesus has been born. We know that, when the moment is ready, the Pastor Nominating Committee will present to the congregation a candidate for pastor. We know that the congregation’s vision is faithful to God’s call and a compelling guide to life and ministry.
In light of all these things, I invite you in this Advent season to live each day to its full. See if you can slow down enough to ponder, not “when,” but “what.” What would God have you to do today? How can your actions and prayers today help you to live in hope and love? What can you do to support the Session and Pastor Nominating Committee?
I will admit that I have never liked waiting times, and perhaps you don’t, either. But waiting is part of our faith—and Advent is here to help us live into it.
Blessings to you in this season!