When God Has Us Wait
November 28, 2021
In Advent we are asked to re-inhabit the waiting of Israel. Generations of Judeans prayed and sacrificed, hoping in faith for the restoration that had yet to come. These, like Simeon and Anna, read and prayed the words of Isaiah 64 and Psalm 80 in ways we can only dimly and retrospectively imagine. But we have our own experience of waiting. We await his second coming, another particular, historical, and unrepeatable event. Until then we suffer sickness, unemployment, injustices, and perhaps even death. We don’t know when he will come, but we wait in faith and pray in hope. We work to be ready on that great day, as Jesus exhorts us. Advent asks us to see our waiting for the second coming in light of the waiting of Israel for its deliverance. And it is fitting that sometimes we remember these periods of yearning in our worship: using the color purple, praying penitential prayers, and fasting. And by doing so we layer time – life itself – with world-changing meaning. In our imaginations and rituals, we step back in time and relive moments in history, trying to appreciate their spiritual significance. In Advent, particularly, we relive waiting for the deliverance of Israel – the forgiveness of sins. And in remembering God’s faithful vindication of Israel, we color our own anticipation of God’s faithfulness in coming again in the future. Take time to step back from the crush of life to ponder and pray through the meaning of this season. Teach us how to wait in faithfulness, to sift ourselves for sources of unholiness and unreadiness, so that we will be found, like Simeon and Anna, ready for your second coming.