Who or what are you waiting for?
Questions in German are the easiest for me to understand.
First, you know right away it’s a question if the sentence begins with one of the ‘W’ words. And second, I just assume questions in most languages precede a certain pause, like the one that followed.
That’s how I usually know.
But this morning, when I heard these words spoken by the preacher, I knew their translation for a different reason. In asking his question, he formed into a question, my question, the one I didn’t know I was asking. His context, the third Sunday of Advent. Mine, the third month of searching for a semi- “permanent” place to live. If ever an introductory hook captured an audience, this was it, at least for me.
Advent is my favorite time of year for several reasons but the main one probably has to do with the widespread hope that almost feels tangible. Carolers wander the streets, candles light the windows of homes, festive markets attract masses despite the cold temperatures. No one has to apologize for spreading Christmas cheer. Surrounding the preparation for the advent of the world’s King, we anticipate reunions with loved ones, the surprises of gifts, long-prepared meals, and a break from work and school. Advent knows its end and that is exactly the reason for our hope.
That’s precisely the point of Advent; the waiting is supposed to come to an end.
This Advent, like all the others, I have much to hope for. The sweet comfort of knowing I’ll be spending it with family. The gift of pondering extra-long on the Incarnation. Many more undiscovered Christmas markets. But this Advent season, I’ve also faced undetermined ends to my waiting, not knowing the when, how, what, or who of several areas of my life. I am indeed waiting for both “who’s” and “what’s,” all of which can’t promise a fulfillment nor offer peace in their absence. But in some paradoxical way, I know that this too is the point of Advent. To remind us of the only One worth waiting for. To recall our misplaced hopes and wake us from our idolatrous slumber. In remembering, we can finally exchange all our waiting’s for One, the only One that promises renewed strength in the process.
I still technically don’t know the main point of this sermon but whether or not I understood as much as I think I did, I treasure the application points I left with on this rainy Sunday. I don’t know how much longer I will have to wait. Maybe the answers to my questions will come like my first two-wheeler on Christmas morning when I was five, unexpected and much bigger than I could have imagined. Or maybe they will be left to my imagination for longer, leaving me to wonder long after Advent and into the new year. Either way, I pray that I don’t miss the point of this waiting season and ever stop waiting.
We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. (Rom. 8:25 MSG)