How do you wait when you are expecting something to happen and the wait seems endless?
Some of us withdraw and get depressed thinking about what we cannot do. Some of us disconnect and focus on doing things that give us pleasure like eating, watching sports or a movie, playing video games, shopping, or reading a book. Some of us isolate and focus on spiritual practices like praying, journaling, or writing poetry. Some of us get impatient and do something active like exercising, composing music, creating a work of art, or organizing our closets.
During the COVID pandemic, we are all growing weary of waiting, wearing masks, washing hands, socially distancing, and avoiding in-person meetings and events.
How do you wait?
As we wait for an accessible and effective vaccine to slow down the spread of this costly and deadly virus, we are also celebrating Advent, a season of waiting. Advent is more than waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus more than 2000 years ago. It is a reminder of the time when Jesus will come again to bring to fulfillment his eternal kingdom.
God’s people throughout the ages have been waiting for God to free them from oppressive government treatment and policies, personal or communal sin, and disease or hardship in hopes of a better future. The scriptures repeatedly name God’s vision and accompanying promises to restore humanity and all of creation. Scriptures also name the lament, confession, longing, and hopes of God’s people.
Psalms 130 is a poem of waiting for divine liberation. How does the poet wait? From the depths of his being, he cries out to the Lord to listen and hear his voice. He cries out his prayer requests, confession of sins, and hopes from God’s word. Then he becomes silent, to wait for the Lord. His waiting reminds him of God’s steadfast love, power to forgive his sins and the sins of the nation, and promise to liberate.
Many of the gospel texts suggest that this time of waiting is not to be one of withdrawing, disconnecting, isolating, or filling our time with activities. While we remember the past events of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection and anticipate Jesus’ second coming, the gospel writers remind us of Jesus’ teaching to be actively engaged in God’s mission now. Advent is now.
How do you wait? What are ways to wait with hope while staying engaged in God’s mission? During this season when there is increased need, I am inspired to be generous by many individuals, congregations, and organizations in our conference and beyond who are meeting the basic needs of many people.
Here are a few ideas:
- Donating money or time to package food items, Christmas gifts, or Mennonite Central Committee kits to ease the burden of those suffering so many losses.
- Memorizing a scripture (like Psalm 130) can ease despair and offer hope.
- Planning meaningful, family activities that deepen relationships.
- Scheduling virtual times with family and friends to keep us connected.
- Viewing inspirational concerts, events, and programs online to remind us of God’s creativity, joy, and delight.
- Creating a work of art for a family member, friend, or donation to an organization nudges us to serve with joy. (See the photo of my quilt project for my grandson.)
During this advent season I challenge all of us to wait with hope. May we discover ways to stay engaged in God’s mission to liberate all of creation, for God’s kingdom to be on earth as it already is in heaven. How are you waiting?