Holy Waiting: Advent
Lately, as I’ve been listening to the news and the bleak violence in our world, I wonder if I’m catching a glimpse of what it must have been like for the people of Israel to wait and wait and wait for centuries for the Messiah. Whenever I hear of another fatal shooting, two prayers arise in my heart: Lord, have mercy; and Come, Lord Jesus.
We are, again, waiting for the kingdom, even as we work and pray together with the Holy Spirit to bring peace.
The season of Advent is a holy season of waiting. In it, we remember that the people of Israel waited centuries for the Messiah, and that when the Messiah came, it was in the form of a baby, not a military hero. Not what the people had been expecting, but so much more.
I can only imagine that for the people of Israel, the waiting felt much like the landscape around them: desert-like. Perhaps even hopeless. So deserted that when Jesus came, only a handful of people recognized what was happening.
But Jesus did come. Jesus did fulfill the prophecies. And Jesus gave living water to dry hearts.
So, for Advent—this season of both waiting and celebration—I offer two meditations for our hearts.
Meditation 1: Where are you waiting?
Individually: Where are the desert areas in your life? Where have you been waiting? Where have you maybe even given up?
Communally: Where are the desert areas in the life of the Church? In your community? In the life of the world? Where have we been waiting? Where have we given up?
These are holy areas. Holy areas where God’s presence is needed. Where God wants to sit with us in the waiting and in the pain.
During your meditation practice, sit with these desert areas.
If you don’t have a regular meditation practice, try sitting with these areas for 15-20 minutes.
At the beginning, name the desert areas. Bring them before God.
Then choose a mantra—a word or phrase to repeat. Let it be a mantra to speak into these desert waiting areas. Perhaps “Come, Lord Jesus.” Or “Living Water.” Or, simply, “Jesus, mercy.”
Breathe the mantra in and out for the duration of the meditation, letting the words pour over your soul. When you find your mind start to wander, come back to your mantra.
Try this meditation multiple times during the Advent season.
Know that God is with you.
Meditation 2: Where has God been faithful to you in the waiting?
Individually: What have you waited for in the past? Where has God already been faithful? What things or healing or people are present in your life today who weren’t in an earlier Advent season?
Communally: What are past desert areas in the life of the church? Human rights? Where has God been faithful to your church? Your community?
These are holy areas too.
We need to remember and celebrate these areas. In the Old Testament, the Israelites set up standing stones—huge monoliths that said, “In this place, God did X.” By remembering and being thankful for God’s faithfulness in our prior desert places, we are setting up standing stones in our own hearts.
And, perhaps, where God has been faithful before will give us the courage to trust that God will bring life to the desert waiting again.
Like the above meditation, bring these areas before God. At the beginning of your meditation, name them. Then breathe a mantra of thanksgiving and trust.
Peace, hope, and love to you this Advent season.