Dec 1 Advent Reflection: Wait

December 1, 2015 at 9:56 am Categories: Digging Deeper

Wait

Before you read anything take one minute and sit in silence. Then read aloud the passage below.

“Be ready for action, and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed is the slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives” (Lk. 12:35-38).

Waiting is hard work. Jesus described it here as the kind of work that allows us to hear. The blessing comes to those whose work is proved simply by opening the door, because they heard the knock from the other side. This is the work of a special kind of waiting. It’s called listening.

We live loud lives: wake up, screen on, eat and run, text and drive, bounce around, fast food, back home, screen back on, plate on lap, back to bed, earbuds in, wake up; repeat. We have one-click shopping. Pay phones have gone the way of the dodo. The Internet doesn’t make that intergalactic fax machine sound anymore. Now it could be that all this on-demand efficiency is evidence of a culture that has discovered what satisfies the longings of the soul—and made it extremely available. Or it could be just the opposite. It could be an indication that we have found exactly nothing that satisfies our longings, so we’ve just resorted to an abundance of stuff that does not, which only keeps us busy enough that we don’t have to confront the hollowness we feel in the silence. Our restlessness has led us to a life of consuming either an abundance of satisfaction or an abundance of distraction.

The men in the parable who opened the door did so because they heard the knock, but the reason they heard the knock is that they were “waiting for their master to return.” It’s no surprise that our culture celebrates our Christmas but wants nothing to do with our Advent. Whatever we might think Christmas is about, Advent assumes it is about one thing: waiting for our master to return. Christmas is worth celebrating because Christmas is coming again. That means the one thing Advent happens to be about involves the two things our culture has no interest in: having a master and having to wait. But that may only be because we’ve given up waiting on the things we long for most deeply. Perhaps if we allowed ourselves to listen to the size of our longings—for peace, joy, belonging, reunion, that all-embracing ache that lies at the center of human experience for we know not what— we would begin to understand that we do not have the raw materials to satisfy them. In that case, we wouldn’t have to just long aimlessly in despair; we may actually be able to long for our Master, waiting for him to bring what only he can bring.

That is why we need Advent as much as we need Christmas—without the waiting, the listening, of Advent, we may never hear Christmas come.

10 Around the Table

Rather than discussing anything about today’s reading, take five or ten minutes to sit in silence (as much as you’re willing). Do it together if you can. There’s something revealing about sitting in silence with others. At the end, sing the lines from the Advent hymn together (as below).     

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery and night.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.