December 23, 2014
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?
"But wait, there's more!" "Wait for it......" "Wait, wait don't tell me!" As frequently as we hear these statements one might think that we live in a culture that supports "waiting." By the time Advent is here, it ought not to be too tough to engage in the spiritual practice of "holy waiting." But our waiting is usually measured in seconds; something that has little resemblance to Advent waiting.
For many of us, these past few weeks have been filled with getting, giving, dressing up and trying to think of clever ways to display fruits and vegetables and cheese as Christmas trees, candy canes, and Santas - but little waiting. The only waiting most of us have been doing is in checkout lines, buffet lines, and for those of us who find the series of Christmas parties slightly painful, waiting to go home. And none of these count unless we consciously let those moments draw us into holy waiting. And the good news is we have two days left in which to experience this sacred practice!
What is "Advent waiting"? We are only willing to wait for something we want, so let's start there. What is it you want? Health and healing for a loved one? Reconciliation with a friend? Love and affection from a family member? The awareness that we are deeply loved by a tender Creator? Freedom from our attachments to busy-ness or being needed, helpful, powerful, esteemed, approved of? Can we quietly hold the depth of our desire - entering into the spaciousness of that present moment, welcoming the longings of our heart? The Advent invitation is to notice those longings with patient trust and awaiting – moment by moment - the grace of God's appearance. This is the crucible where we are refined and purified, “like gold and like silver.” Today's first reading also reminds us that the desires we have for ourselves, God also has for us. Indeed, God's desires for our collective wholeness, well-being and reconciliation far surpass ours.
Today's gospel offers images of waiting. Elizabeth had many months to
ponder the name of her unborn baby...which family member would be honored
with a namesake? Contrary to customs, she awaited God's choice: "he will
be called John." One wonders how she knew. How long do we wait for
God’s guidance in our own decisions? And Zechariah, having just as many
months waiting in silence, affirmed Elizabeth's choice. Can we wait in
silence, holding our tongue, until we hear God's voice?
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