Waiting: Blessing or Challenge?

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely God’s salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet: righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps. (Psalm 85:8-13)

One of the things that this pandemic is teaching me is that in every challenge there is a blessing, and in every blessing there is a challenge. When I think about the deep challenge of “social distancing and isolation,” I am also aware of the blessings of Zoom calls that connect me with family and friends, or the gift of long, quiet walks through my own neighborhood that mean that I know the people who live right around us better. When I think about the blessing of “more time,” there is the challenge of managing that time in ways that feel purposeful and productive, or the challenge of even remembering what day it is, or the challenge of waiting patiently with the expectation that this COVID time will truly give way to a new time – someday soon. Challenges and blessings. Blessings and challenges. Advent is like that, I think. For me, it is a deeply blessed time when the promises of God shimmer in the darkness and ring with the possibilities that the holy gifts of the season –hope, peace, joy, and love – will truly come to pass.

The Psalmist says it so beautifully. Salvation is at hand. Love and faithfulness will
meet. Righteousness and peace will kiss each other. These Advent days are a time when anything can happen, and all we have to do is… wait. And there’s the rub. Buried in this wonderful blessing is a deep challenge. Waiting. Patiently and with
expectation. And you know it! We resist waiting at every turn (as in Alexa… order my toothpaste!) And there is blessing in this waiting. We get to notice the moments of salvation as they emerge – the acts of kindness, the beautiful sunrise, the haunting
words and music of O Come, O Come Emmanuel that remind us that our Savior is
coming to make this tired old world new… My favorite description of this season comes in a poem, written by Madeleine L’Engle, and is untitled as far as I know. It goes like this:

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child

Rev. Katherine Mulhern,
Retired Minister and NUCC Member

Prayer Focus:
For those who wait

Holy God, it feels as though we have been waiting forever. At least since March! We confess that we are tired of waiting – waiting to see our loved ones, waiting to gather with friends, waiting for COVID numbers to drop, waiting for so many things. And yet, in this season of Advent, we lean in to listen to your promises – that hope, peace, joy, and love will come to be once more, that salvation will come upon us when we least expect it. Bless our waiting, O God. Open our hearts and minds to your wild Advent promises. Open our eyes that we may see the possibilities you have in store for us. Amen