Watching and Waiting

Author: Karen Hoover

As I write this meditation, we are approaching the Fourth Sunday of Advent. And as you are reading this, Christmas Day is fast approaching. The season of waiting — excruciating for children and harried for adults – soon ends.  But before it does, have we taken a moment to consider what we are actually watching and waiting for?

In this Advent Season I have found myself reflecting more than usual on the Advent words “watching” and “waiting.” Perhaps this is due to COVID which keeps us mostly in our homes and safe bubbles, watching hopefully for signs of progress in controlling the virus, and waiting patiently for good news of a vaccine. Maybe it is a reflection of our political environment, watching hopefully for positive change and waiting apprehensively for the peaceful transfer of leadership.  Maybe my focus is simply the logical outcome of this extended period of reduced social contact and movement which could be characterized as a period more of “being” and less of “doing.”

Whatever the reason, the question for me this Advent season has been “What are we, as Christians, watching for? What is it that we are waiting for?” Afterall, we know this story!  Yet with each re-telling of the story, I encounter different nuances which deepen and enrich the meaning of Jesus’s birth in my own life. God sent Jesus to us in human form to show God’s love for us and closeness to us. Jesus is not a deity on high. He was a human man who dwelt among us and became our teacher, teaching us how to love one another and how to embody that love through service, to create peace by demanding justice. And when Jesus gave his life as the ultimate sacrifice, he did not leave us. In the opening words of the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Light of the World.

I’ve come to think of Advent as a kind of annual refresher course, but not so much of the story of the Nativity. Instead, celebrating Jesus’s birth is my opportunity to renew my commitment to follow his teachings throughout the coming year. To do so, I must remain actively “watchful” for opportunities to act on my faith and not “wait” to respond. In this way, “watching” and “waiting” are no longer passive activities. They become alive with possibility!

Light Giver, thank you for lighting our way by sending Jesus, the Light of the World, to us. Amen.

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