This was originally posted on December 9, 2011. I’m reposting as apart of Advent Ponderings. 

Advent PonderingsWaiting is hard.

As a child did you get impatient waiting for Christmas morning?  The anticipation of finding out what presents you got was too much to handle that you searched endlessly through the house to find anything?   Yeah, I was that kid.  I was anyway, until the year I found presents that I was certain were for me, only to find out on Christmas morning they were for one of my brothers.

Instead of just waiting with patience, I had to know now!  I took matters into my own hands and searched the house, leaving nothing untouched.  I couldn’t wait!  And I was meant with disappointment.

Waiting is hard.

In the life of the Church we have been in the season of Advent.  Advent is a time of waiting with preparation.  Just as Mary waited for the birth of the Christ Child, so we wait for Christ’s coming.  And yet, Advent is a time of preparation.  Each week of Advent is a time spent getting ready for the coming Christ.   Waiting and preparing.  Preparing and waiting.

In the “Little Apocalypse” that is Mark 13 (one of the scriptures for the first week of Advent) Jesus tells us that not even the Son of Man knows the day or time of “the Son of Man coming in clouds.”  But he does know that there is a necessity for watchfulness.  “Beware; keep alert,” he says in Matthew 13:33.  Again in Matthew 13:35, “Keep awake,” and in 13:37, “Keep awake.”  Three times, Jesus says we should keep awake/keep alert.  Just in the next chapter of Mark’s gospel, Jesus goes into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He leaves three disciples to “remain here, and keep awake.”  Three times Jesus returns only to find the disciples asleep.

Waiting is hard.

Our Wesleyan tradition (as United Methodists), implies . . . demands . . . that there is more than saying the right words and believing the right belief.  We must do something.   The season of Advent reminds us to keep awake and to be watchful.  It reminds us to wait with purpose.   Waiting, yes, but preparing as well.  Prepare implies doing.  What are we doing to prepare for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom?  As writer Nan Duerling puts it so well, “We live as Advent people who keep alert and constantly prepare for his coming.”

As followers of Christ in the 21st century, are we staying awake and being alert or are we falling asleep?   Are we waiting and preparing?  Food banks are reporting that their giving has doubled within a year.  Doubled!  Something like 25% of children in the United States are living in poverty (this number has most likely grown in the last few years).   Shelters are having to turn away people in need because there is lack of space and resources.

And we wait for the world to change.  But does it?  Will it?

Waiting is hard.