We’ve all spent a significant amount of our time waiting. Waiting for an appointment, waiting for a kid to come home, waiting for an overdue airplane, waiting our turn at the grocery store. No one likes waiting; its very definition is postponement. Postponement of joy, of relief, of getting things done. So why does the Church give us Advent? Why assign a whole season just to waiting? Why not go directly to Christmas?
I’d like to suggest that things happen in the waiting. Waiting is liminal time, time spent between one thing and another, and that is often where the magic happens. Advent makes sure we’re ready for Christmas.
- Advent waiting is finite. We wait for love and marriage without knowing if it will come. We wait for justice. We wait for healing. The hardest thing about waiting is not knowing when it’s going to end, or even if it’s going to end. The waiting that comes with Advent is fun because it’s finite. We know what’s coming at the end of our wait will be good, and we know exactly how many days we have left to wait for it. You can find stress in waiting, or you can find joy in knowing how and when it will end.
- Advent waiting is preparatory. We make space for special things—Christmas trees, holiday foods, hidden presents. But we also have to make space inside ourselves, open ourselves to the Child on his way. Our hearts are his home, so they must be prepared.
- Advent waiting is hopeful. As this part of the world moves deeper into winter, the shortened days and longer nights can feel dark. But there is a Light that shines in darkness: the one who loves, redeems, and heals the world is on his way. We, and our whole community of faith, are the people of hope. Let’s live it fully!
Hold your breath: it is almost here. The waiting is nearly over.