Two weeks from today, Advent starts. I may have mixed feelings about the holidays in general, but I'm starting to look forward to Advent. Here's the thing about waiting. I may have been waiting a long time, but I feel like the amount of time that I have waited well is a lot shorter, and much more sporadic. I look forward to Advent because it is a time to remind myself to wait well, and not simply to wait impatiently. I know more about waiting than I ever wanted to know, and I know much less than I should. And I live it even less well than I know it.
The thing is, I feel stuck in an endless season of waiting. I get so tired of it, and it's hard to deal with the ups and downs or even just the monotony. I forget that there is so much opportunity in waiting. Advent is the season to work on waiting well. It has a lot to teach us about waiting with expectant hope.
First of all, it is a season of penance. That can feel a little out of place sometimes given what a joyous event Christmas is. But Advent is not Christmas. Advent is preparation for Christmas, and a reminder that waiting should be much more than sitting on our hind ends until the calendar rolls around to December 25th. We should be preparing. Waiting should not passive. Waiting for a husband, or a child, or the Savior of the world and many other things that people wait for all of these things require us to set aside our selfishness and give of ourselves. What better way to prepare for this than through the self denial of voluntary penance? I'll be honest, I rarely do this, but it could be very helpful, is what I'm saying.
Another thing about Advent that I love is Gaudete Sunday. It is the second to last Sunday before Christmas, and it is all about rejoicing. We don't praise God only when we get what we want. We don't praise Him so that He will give us what we want. We praise Him because He is worthy of praise, in the midst of the wait.
You know what I love about Advent that I didn't even know until I started writing this? I knew it was a season of expectant waiting. We not only wait but we wait for God to work in ways that are beyond what we could have imagined. Because He is God and that's how He rolls. But what I didn't think about is what the word "advent" means. Do you know?
"Advent" means "coming". I do not know what His answer is in your life or mine. But He is coming. Not just to Bethlehem, but to our lives and in the midst of our problems. We may not know when or where or how, but we do know that it will happen.