Advent waiting

Advent waiting, Grand Hotel, Cape May NJ

“Advent, then, calls us into a state of active waiting: a state that recognizes and embraces the glimmers of God’s presence in the world, that recalls and celebrates God’s historic yet ever present actions, that speaks the truth about the almost-but-not-quite nature of our Christian living, that yearns for but cannot quite achieve divine perfection. Most of all, Advent summons us to the present moment, to a still yet active, a tranquil yet steadfast commitment to the life we live now. It is this to which Advent beckons us, and without it our Christian journey is impoverished.”
~ Paula Gooder, “The Meaning is in the Waiting”

I looked for a short passage that would demonstrate how wise this book is, but I couldn’t find one. I’d have to quote a page and a half at least to convey its depth; I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever read about Advent.

Gooder makes sense of Advent waiting in a way that’s new to me—though possibly I’m the last to catch on? She says Advent isn’t just about preparing for Christmas, in the sense of amending our lives and purifying our hearts, though of course it is that, too. It isn’t just about remembering the past or looking to the future in the way we usually associate with this season.

Advent also teaches us to understand the value of the present moment. Even if we’ve not yet arrived in the future we so eagerly anticipate, that isn’t the point. In the meantime we aren’t meant simply to sit and wait for something to happen. We aren’t here just to kill time.

The “now” is where we live our lives, where we walk with God, where it’s all happening for us. When we understand that, when we learn to wait in a way that doesn’t deny the importance of the present, then we’ve learned the true lesson of the season.