And so we wait. The year 2020 has provided us with many opportunities to wait. Wait to visit family from across the country. Wait to hug loved ones living nearby. Wait to eat at a favorite restaurant. Wait to host friends for dinner. Wait to meet in person for worship and missional work. Wait. Wait. Wait. On numerous occasions some of you have expressed your frustration with all the waiting. The missed connections, missed celebrations, missed adventures. The feeling of loneliness and isolation, the longing to be with others.

It is ironic that the season of Advent – a season calling us to wait – comes when we have been waiting now for nine months. Nine months! The length of a typical school year. The time it takes from planting a banana bulb to harvesting the fruit. The time it takes for a baby to be born. These four weeks of the church year, however, invites us to a different kind of waiting – waiting with an attitude of preparation and anticipation. How do we prepare for something so familiar? How do we maintain a sense of anticipation when we know the ending? We choose a different way of waiting.  Author Enuma Okoro suggests “embracing the act of waiting for Christ as an ongoing opportunity for life-giving transformation.” She writes:

We are not trained to approach waiting as something that may bring with it unexpected gifts of transformation or new life. We are mostly trained to focus on the result of the waiting, on what happens at the end. But that sort of waiting can lead to our missing the beautiful invitations embedded in the process itself.

The waiting of Advent invites our curiosity. It invites listening for new things in familiar texts. It asks us to examine our own attitudes and experience of the wait and to engage with others about our findings. And, Okoro says,

If we find ourselves burned out on waiting, perhaps the life-giving way this year is to offer up the very act of waiting back to God, to practice the discipline of trusting God with the burden of waiting and to sit in the present with the sole intent of being inquisitive about whatever is happening right now.

Maybe we’ll find that the wait is not only essential to the thing we’re waiting for but vital to the next place God is trying to take us.