Advent is a time of waiting. But what exactly does it mean to wait? There are different definitions that offer a complexity to the simple word “wait”.
We all know what it means to wait for things. I often take the train when I travel to Philadelphia and have to wait at the station. We wait in car line to pick up our children at school or an extracurricular event. We wait for someone to finish getting ready so we can go somewhere.
Then there are the unhealthy waits – waiting for the “right time” to start the exercise program, or to have a hard conversation. This type of waiting tends to be more about procrastinating or avoiding something.
But biblical waiting is different. Over the past few Sundays, the Gospel lessons were all about waiting for Christ’s return. Jesus would tell these stories of waiting and watching, combining the two words. And this type of waiting is more of a time of preparation. To wait expectantly means you works towards that event as you anticipate it.
Think about having a child. You must wait nine months – but you do not go about your business as usual, rather you prepare. You create a space for a crib, you get baby furniture and clothing. You start to consider changes in schedules. You rest (and we know the importance of proper rest). This waiting is filled with action and contemplation.
This is the same waiting Jesus calls us to. When we wait or keep watch, we continue to prepare for Him by doing those things He calls us to do. And each of us have different gifts, talents, and abilities, but all are from God and all can be used for God.
During this time of Advent waiting, prepare yourself to receive Him again. Make Advent a time of prayer, contemplation, rest, and action. Consider one thing to do each week that might make a difference for another. Try a new way to pray, or an additional time of day for meditative prayer. Learn a new (for you) song or hymn. Contemplate on the words to some of the traditional Advent hymns. Practice random acts of kindness.
And wait with anticipation for God.