A Waiting Full Of Promise

Author: Ryan Service

Picture: Needpix

A Waiting Full Of Promise

Fr Ryan Service considers how different types of waiting can help us understand waiting for the birth of Jesus during Advent,

Throughout Advent, the Christian community waits to celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas (we are not there yet).

We are also waiting for the Lord’s coming in concrete ways in our everyday lives before his second coming.

So, what can God teach us about waiting?

Binge Distraction

I have recently discovered the joy of binge watching (late in the game-I know). You can watch a series in a single sitting without waiting.

The tragedy of binge watching, though, is that the whole concept of a cliffhanger loses impact; you no longer have to wait until next week’s instalment, but merely press play.

Through online platforms, the way we wait is changing. When something is not available on demand, we are left wanting.

Advent allows us to consider the long term and see our lives as a movement of hopeful expectation in the Lord.

Whenever we face those cliffhanger moments, moments of doubt and confusion, we turn anew to the Lord, consoled by His promise that “all shall be well.” 

Bus Stop Blues

You turn up at the bus stop on time, but the bus doesn’t-surely the most common experience of waiting. This kind of waiting tests our patience and disrupts our plans.

Yet sometimes, when we cannot plan the umpteenth detail of our day, we are called to be more spontaneous-and there might be a blessing in that.

Perhaps we take a different route, we make that phone call we haven’t been able to make or talk to others waiting with us. Yes, we might well be late, but when we’re suddenly ‘graced’ with more time than we expected, we can give attention to other possibilities.

Pope Francis says: “We are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life that is presented each day with its newness. We need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own established plans, because the Lord comes in the hour which we don’t imagine.”

Making The Grade

Every August, thousands of students await exam results, taking us back to our own experience of waiting, too. With hindsight, we see how there was little use being anxious, yet the fears were real.

In Advent, we do not wait in fear for the opening of an envelope. Rather, our hope is in the Lord and in His plans for our future.

The Lord’s second coming should not give us that exam day feel. Why? Because the Lord is with us already. In Advent, where we seek time for stillness, we invite Him further into our lives.

It’s a call to relationship with the Lord here and now.

Political Waiting

Brexit has involved a national waiting.

Wherever you stand on Brexit, the obvious lesson is that there’s a big difference between outcome and process. An outcome was desired by many millions and the process has been more strenuous than imagined.

This reminds us that waiting is not just an isolated activity. We wait for the coming of the Lord’s kingdom and yet we find that our waiting is active and creative; we are called to be a community that awaits the Lord by contributing to the common good with others.

We do not act only as individual believers, but as a whole community.

New Birth

While Christmas is about birth, Advent is about pregnancy.

The drama of the Incarnation begins with the Annunciation, and we have nine months of liturgical and symbolic waiting. We can’t ‘skip’ straight to the birth; we live precisely in the period of expectation.

Advent asks us to see our faith with fresh perspective, looking forward to the promise of God’s tomorrow.

Let’s take time to invite the Lord into our hearts in these precious Advent days, days which teach us that change, growth and newness are possible.

We look for that green shoot of Jesse that is about to bloom, transforming ourselves and the society around us.

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