Thursday, December 01, 2016

Reflections on Advent: Waiting, when the time grows short.... (2 Advent, Year A)

My wife and I are in the midst of a home renovation. It has been a long time coming, and we are of course now well past our "scheduled" completion date. I cannot and will not complain, and this reflection is not meant to be such. Don't read on with an expectation of hearing how delays, or frustrations with our contractor or his subs have challenged our spiritual sang froid. Everyone who has weathered the challenges of home construction or renovation projects knows what it is like to be confined to smaller spaces in your own home. They have lived through the cacaphony of demolition and framing. They have survived with dust and bits of plaster and dry wall winding up everywhere. They have dealt with water, electricity and gas being shut off, and sometimes left off by accident. They have struggled with having to choose things like cabinets, appliances and counter tops today with little notice. They have waited for inspections and inspectors that never seem to come. They have worried about cost over-runs and budgets. They have dealt with all of that and more. 

This is not a reflection on those challenges. Why? Because those, as they say, can be considered "first world" problems. These challenges are, in fact, blessings (at least I am working on reframing them as such). You see, while these renovations are taxing on our resources, our patience and our emotions we have the resources, for the most part, to get through this experience. We can, at least with hope, see an end to the process and we are blessed to being able to step around the plastic barrier that keeps what is from what will be in our home and actually see what is coming.

The type of waiting we are dealing with in regard to our construction is like most of the waiting we deal with in this life. Eventually, the dust will be cleaned up, furniture will be arranged, the kitchen will be unpacked. It will pass, this time of stress. Just one challenged of waiting for us...but you know more: Waiting for traffic to clear, or for the rain to stop might be annoying or stressful, but we know that eventually the roadway will clear and the sun will shine; waiting for the barber will result in a haircut; waiting for the doctor will mean treatment; waiting for a loved one will mean reunion....

...Until another kind of waiting starts to assert itself: It's the kind of waiting that strikes deep into our soul with a prayerful cry to God (and not the contractor) of "How long?" It is the kind of waiting that is not about our PERSONAL issues, per se, but about our recognizing that the not-quite-right things of this world need correction. It's a deep awareness that things need to change, and that we need to change...and that we are waiting for THAT moment for a sign, a trigger, perhaps permission, to act.

It's hard enough to wait on the mundane things of this world. The stress and strain of that kind of waiting is, frankly, overwhelming. It takes almost everything out of us, leaving us wrecks and forcing us to acknowledge depletion. 

The deep waiting on God, made real in this season of Advent, is something that challenges us to put mundane waiting into perspective. It knocks us out of our waiting on the regular stuff and invites us to a deeper commitment to "ponder the imponderables" of a world yearning for the return of its Savior. It is also a provocation to be ACTIVE in our waiting: to seek out and serve others whose needs are great--for justice, for physical need, for hope. It gives voice to something deep inside us that realizes our mundane waiting is really just practice for the greater work we are called to as we wait on Christ. We are waiting, actively and with intention, on a restoration of creation that we are already taking part in!

So, take a moment and reflect: What are you waiting for? 

And what can you choose-to do-in order to bring the deeper waiting of creation itself to completion?

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Mark. Perspective is a blessing, and you have incredible insight. Thanks for sharing!