I popped into the church to pick something up during the week and found a man sitting in the front pew. There is nothing unusual in that really as hundreds of tourists and visitors drink in the awe and wonder of First Church by sitting quietly before moving out or into the Heritage Centre. The strange thing was that an hour later the same man was still sitting in the front pew. I  asked him if he needed any help. “No thanks,” he said, “I’m fine; I’m just waiting.”

As I begin to prepare for this new season of Advent in the lead up to  Christmas, I am reminded that the Bible consistently describes our    relationship with God as “waiting”. It seems a central theme of Advent too, but I find many folk are bothered by this fact. They see “waiting” as a weak position to be in. Waiting seems to imply    weakness and impotence. We tend not to enjoy this admission of dependence, this passivity.

Some people handle waiting very badly – just watch car drivers before the lights turn green – their     impatience abundantly clear. On the other hand, sometimes we are too proud, too restless. Gosh,   for many it is not easy at all to live by faith! What are you like waiting – waiting for God?

I admit there are different kinds of waiting though. The surgeon comes out of the operating theatre and says, “Well, it is now just a matter of waiting,” and we feel the heaviness of our anxiety and helplessness. Waiting can seem so feeble, so weak. There seems nothing we can do, except hope.

But there is another kind of waiting. I remember meeting Jane, whose marriage to David I had  celebrated a few years previous. She rushed over the main street to greet me. Her eyes were alight with excitement. “I’ve got a secret to tell you,” she began. She did not really need to tell me. Her eyes told the story: she was pregnant with their first child.

I heard again with delight what I’ve heard and experienced in my own life in waiting for the birth of each of my daughters. It is an active waiting: getting the nursery prepared, the baby clothes sorted,     the check-ups at the doctors, and on the list goes. To be sure the waiting also includes a change of life-style, finances reviewed, a   different timetable. Jane said to me that day, “Nine months is really not long enough.” This new waiting was to be different as Jane and David were participating in a coming event, joyfully, actively, excitedly.

Advent calls the Church to this kind of waiting. The message is simple: God is coming. There is much to be done, so we need to get ready! Our faith in the inevitability of God’s coming now controls all that we do and are. This waiting is different, says the Gospel. Turn around and face the sunrise; make restitution to all whom you have wronged;           be humble in the presence of this great and awesome mystery. Live every day in the       expectation of His coming. Let His Holy Spirit direct you in the midst of your waiting.

My prayer for you is that this Advent will blend into a holy Christmas as you experience His coming again within you.



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