For many of us, “waiting” has negative connotations. Waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting on hold as we call for a needed service or medical appointment, or waiting for a test result … the list goes on and on. Often, such waiting is accompanied by frustration, irritation, or impatience.But there are also waiting times when we experience joy. Waiting for the arrival of a beloved friend or family member for a holiday visit, waiting for a package in the mail that contains something delightful, waiting to pick up a new pet or a special holiday treat that we have ordered at the bakery—these waiting events often carry a joy that causes our eyes to sparkle and puts a spring in our step.
This third week of Advent, church tradition reminds us that we are to practice waiting with joy. The lectionary readings (Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-10; and Matthew 11:2-11) remind us of the deep goodness for which we wait: streams and blossoms in the desert where they are least expected and most needed; blind eyes to be opened, deaf ears to hear, lame legs to leap with strength; and the very dead to be raised. They remind us, too, that we are to wait with those who suffer, to strengthen them in their waiting, until they know for themselves that God has not forgotten them, but that he brings promised salvation, justice, and peace that surpass what they can imagine.
The end of our waiting is the most joyful event of all: the life-giving arrival of Christ himself. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
· When have you experienced waiting with joy? How might that experience inform your Advent waiting this season?
· Is there someone who has encouraged you when your own waiting was hard and wearying? Take time to thank them.
Dr. Rebecca S. Letterman, associate professor of spiritual formation, reflects on the lectionary readings for the third week of Advent as a platform for experiencing the word and work of God during this season.