Sunday, December 13, Third Sunday of Advent

  Learn to wait for He has promised to come.

                                                                                                                --Dietrich Bonhoeffer


What a hard lesson to learn!  As kids, didn’t we find it almost impossible to wait for Christmas morning?  And I remember how excited I was—and impatient—as I waited with my sister on the front porch for my Grandmother to arrive from California.  We watched, waiting for a cab to pull up to the house not knowing exactly when that would happen.

Then, there were the teen-age years when I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license.  However, during the test, I went through a red light and had to wait even longer to take another test.  I won’t repeat the expletives that came from the instructor’s mouth when it happened, but it wasn’t pretty.  He told me to return to the DMV and turn off the engine.  I replied, “Don’t I get to parallel park?”  “Parallel park?” he snapped. “You flunked!”  I was embarrassed by the thought of having to tell my friends, and waiting it out.

As we grow older, a more somber kind of waiting takes hold.  We wait for better times; for the strands of life to come together somehow.  We wait to find that someone to love us as we are, or for the hurts to heal and the sadness to pass.  And, if there is any faith at all, we wait for God to answer our prayers; to be there for us.

Sometimes we wait, and nothing happens; God is silent and hope slowly leaks away.  It is then we’re tempted to grow indifferent or give up altogether: like those Hebrews at Sinai who grew tired of waiting for Moses, and took things into their own hands.  Impatiently, they fashioned a god of their own making; a god, at least, they could touch.  Sometimes we do the same, do we not? 

Paradoxically, it’s only in the waiting that the promise made to us begins to dawn and in ways that often leave us surprised.   Whenever I write, I’ve learned to wait before the blank piece of paper.  I wait to be inspired; moved by words formed within me.   Prayer, too, is about waiting:  not so much for clear-cut answers but for the presence of the One who is our Life.  T.S. Eliot said, “The faith, and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.”

Why, then, is waiting so difficult?  Why the impatience? 

In Terry Tempest Williams’ “Finding Beauty in a Broken World” she spends time watching Prairie Dogs in Utah, studying the habits of this endangered species on the brink of extinction.   She describes the experience of waiting in these words:

We have forgotten the virtue of sitting, watching, observing.  Nothing much happens.  This is the way of nature…

For long periods of time, the meadows are still.  We watch.  We wait…And then, the slightest of breezes moves the grass…heard as a whispered prayer.

The gift I have been given has been in the waiting and the natural passage of time.  As a speed addict, it has taken time for me to detoxify.  But slowly, hour by hour, panic and boredom became awe and wonder.  I grew quiet.  I began to see… (pp. 196-197)

Advent, if we let it, can teach us the virtue of waiting: to see beyond the panic and boredom a God who waits for us amid the natural passage of time, like a breeze moving thru grass; like “a whispered prayer.”


Father Tim Clark, Pastor

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