Advent, Time for Patient Waiting

visitationWe’re in Advent, the season of waiting, waiting for God. We Americans don’t like to wait. We are frustrated by red lights, long lines at the checkout counter, and lengthy downloads. But as poet R.J. Thomas observed, “The meaning is in the waiting.” The Israelites waited centuries for salvation from Egypt and centuries for salvation by the Messiah. Now we await the Messiah’s second coming in glory. Bombarded with bad news from around the globe, we feel like praying with the psalmist, “How long, O God” (Ps. 13) before we enjoy your kingdom of peace and justice. But remember that Scripture says a thousand years are as a single day to the eternal God. (Ps. 90) The Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin encouraged us to “trust in the slow work of God.” So during Advent we are “eagerly waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Cor. 1:7). But we need to “wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25).

During Advent we pray the second last verse of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20) Here is an extended Advent prayer:

Come, Lord Jesus!

Come, Prince of Peace, and extinguish the hatred and violence that mar the beauty of your world.

Come, Light of the World, and shine in places where people do not know you.

Come, Good Shepherd, and seek out sinners, especially loved ones who cause us concern.

Come, King of the Universe, and extend your kingdom of justice over our land.

Come, Son of Mary, and further the rights of women.

Come, Refugee in Egypt, and bring about a just solution to immigration problems.

Come, Son of God, and fill the hearts of people who are sad this season with hope and joy.

Come, Savior, and inflame in me a vibrant love for you that ignites love for you in others.

How do we find meaning in our Advent waiting? We can wait like Mary. She prepared for her son, sewing baby blankets and clothes and planning how she would be a good mother to the Son of God. We can prepare gifts and ready our houses for Christmas gatherings. We can also prepare ourselves by being good…not for Santa but for welcoming our Savior. Mary’s heart must have been filled with awe and gratitude for the great mystery she shared in. Her days must have been drenched in prayer. We can spend extra time pondering the wonder of salvation in prayer. While pregnant, Mary hurried to help her older cousin Elizabeth in her pregnancy, about a 90-mile journey. We can assist those in need more than usual. Elizabeth was aware that Jesus was within Mary. May we greet Christ in others no matter in whom he comes to us.

So what are we waiting for? As we “await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” let’s make our Advent a season not only of anticipation, but of preparation, prayer, and presents for the poor. Then let us keep up these practices after Advent, for as the Trappist Thomas Merton pointed out, “Life is a perpetual Advent”!

What do you like about Advent?


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