This is the first article in a five-part Advent series.
First Advent Sunday
Word: the biblical starting point
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
“The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them. In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’” Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NLT)
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace.” Micah 5:2-5a (NLT)
Wisdom: a guiding sentiment
“‘Wait on the Lord’ is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” J.I. Packer
Weave: an intertwining of experience or reflection and the biblical story
The prophets and those who heard their message of a coming Messiah were invited to a posture of waiting. It was hundreds of years later that Emmanuel would come to the world and walk among their descendants. Even though the people of Isaiah’s, Jeremiah’s and Micah’s time did not see the coming of the Lord in the person of Jesus, did not see the literal fulfillment of the prophet’s revelation, their waiting brought them hope for a better future, hope that their gloom would be lifted and that the joy of the Lord would return like the morning sunrise. There is an unmistakable intertwining in life, an interweaving between waiting and hope, waiting and faith. Waiting is a necessary and foundational ingredient in discipleship. There is no spiritual formation without it. Healthy spiritual formation does not happen in the rush. “Live slowly enough to be able to think deeply about God,” wrote theologian J.I. Packer. Scripture counsels the disciple of Jesus: “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 NLT).
In our hyper-instant culture, waiting is too often interpreted as a frustration we must bear, a punishment inflicted upon us or someone’s failure to meet our right to immediate self-centred, even narcissistic, gratification. During the Christmas season, the sense of rush and busyness overwhelms us, and we are robbed of peace. Instead of being refreshed and renewed during Advent, we become agitated and anxious. We need a revived perspective of mindfulness, being still—waiting.
The wise disciple of Jesus understands waiting in light of faith in a sovereign God. Such a disciple recognizes that the Lord operates on his timetable, not ours; the Lord is never rushed or bound by our sense of schedule or calendar. A wise disciple knows he cannot bend the timing of God’s providence to align with earthly gait. Similarly, a wise disciple realizes the incredible value inherent in a space of waiting. The wise disciple sees waiting as a path to blessing.
As you enter into this season of Advent, ponder deeply the waiting of those who heard the prophecy of a coming Messiah. Their waiting was anchored to hope that God was about to do a new thing, a restorative, redeeming work. They waited for the revelation of a divinely wrought peace and joy. This hope yet to be fulfilled was worth waiting for.
Wrestle: pondering next steps
Consider how you can recapture some of that prophetic hope as you wait to celebrate the coming of Jesus. What is worth waiting for in your life? What personal value is there in waiting for God to act in your life and circumstance? What would an Advent steeped in a posture of waiting—waiting upon the Lord—look like? Feel like? Sound like?