Waiting, watching, and yearning

Advent Pray Hands Candlelight Candle Prayer Open Light 1926414The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, explores the true meaning of hope at Advent 

Advent. Candles, calendars and countdown to Christmas. Lighting the darkness, logging the passing days and looking ahead. Waiting, watching, yearning. 

A friend of mine fell into conversation with an old man at a rural bus-stop. When was the bus due? Some time yet. ‘But it won’t take me as long to wait,’ said the old man, ‘as it will take you.’

Practice makes patience. Waiting time can itch away at our peace of mind. Or it can be space into which we settle and where we find deep calm. Advent is a time when the Church practices waiting. As we wait we remember.

We remember the world’s long wait for the Messiah’s coming. Jesus was the answer to an ancient hope, water to satisfy a deep thirst, light dawning after a long journey through shadow. In Advent we transport ourselves, as it were, into that waiting time. We become, for a few weeks, people of the Old Testament, waiting for Jesus yet not knowing quite who and what we are waiting for.

We also wait as Christians, for fulfilment yet to come. For the sure and knowing judgment of God to claim and measure the world. For Jesus to be known, in risen and glorious power, not only as a child. For faith to turn into sight. For a new heaven and earth.

When we wait in hope, time does not drag. Our waiting stirs us and carries us, as we watch and travel and yearn. May God give you hope this Advent.