Advent has begun. For the secular world, this season will be spent waiting for Christmas. And how will the world wait for its arrival? By catching all the sales, looking for the best deals, and insuring their credit limit will survive the endless gift lists for friends and family. However, this year’s waiting will look and feel different.
The coronavirus with its financial impacts will make Christmas look a little less “glitzy” and a lot more basic. Add to that the public health mandates, opportunities to share Christmas cheer will be less frequent if not at all.
For believers Advent marks a different kind of waiting. While it is a time of celebrating Christ’s first arrival, it is also a time “to reset Jesus Christ as the center of our lives and at the center of our church.”
In the Renovare podcast, “Waiting in the Darkness: Why we Need Advent this Year, this time is also described as “making room” in our lives for Jesus.
Waiting for Christ
Advent is a time when we not only wait to celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ but we also joyfully anticipate Christ’s “imminent” return for His Church (2 Tim. 4:8).
Imminent comes from the Latin word meaning “to overhang”. To say that something is imminent is to say that it is hanging over you and about to fall, in a metaphorical way. Christ will return but we don’t know when. So we wait for his return.
Remember what the angels told the disciples at the ascension of Christ:
You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left. (Acts 1:11, The Message)
In the Gospels, Jesus spoke with certainty about His Second Coming or the Second Advent (Matt. 16:27; 24:44; John 14:1-3; Luke 21:34-36).
How are we to wait?
In James 5:7, the brother of Jesus gives us our first hint as to how we are to wait.
Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. (NRS)
We are to wait with patience. James uses the illustration of the farmer and his need to wait on that which he has no control and yet is critical for his future provision—rain.
It is the same with believers as we await Christ’s return. We don’t know when it will happen, but we know we desperately need Him both now and through eternity.
Learning to wait
And so we wait. We wait for the hope of One whose return is imminent yet unknown specifically when. We hope in the midst of what appears hopeless, because God alone can resolve what ails the world. So we patiently wait for his return (Prov. 20:22).
I contend that waiting—godly waiting–is a spiritual discipline that every believer should cultivate and embrace versus accept with great resignation. Advent season is the perfect time to practice what will result in a priceless gift from God. The joy of waiting.