During one of our cherished visits from our daughter and family from Germany, we made an all-family trip to the “magic kingdom.” As usual, we spent a lot of time in lines, waiting. However, I found the opportunity to visit with Sommer and Shannon, to be more exhilarating than the ride itself. (Though it is a kick to scream with your kids.) Every once in a while when I would look around, I noticed that large portions of people in line were on their cell phones standing next to friends who were on their cell phones. Maybe they were “talked out,” or maybe we are losing the ability to “be” with one another. Sometimes it isn’t how long we wait, but how we wait that shapes our experience.
We are entering the season of waiting that we call Advent. Sometimes we see this season as a time of preparation for Christmas. Preparing fits our cultural mindset. Preparing is active. It means there is a lot to do, tasks to accomplish, rooms to decorate, parties to attend, gifts to buy, families to gather. Getting ready implies being busy. But the spirit of Advent is not about getting things done, but being present in the things we do and in the space in between: it’s about how we wait.
This Advent our LAUMC family will be learning the art of waiting from the Gospel of Luke as we accompany Zachariah, who lingered in silence waiting for the birth of his son. We will rest with Elizabeth who creates a safe space for her cousin Mary. We will ponder with Mary the amazing stirrings of the spirit and weigh our own availability to host what God is about to do in the world. And, we will stand with Joseph who demonstrates the power of simply being present.
How we wait is transforming. There is a difference between:
Waiting for peace to come and waiting in peace
Waiting for violence to end and waiting through our own anger
Waiting for equality and waiting in equity
Waiting for justice to come and waiting in compassion
Waiting for tranquility and waiting in silence.
May this Advent season offer us an opportunity and community with whom to:
Wait on the Edge in Hope