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The waiting time

Mike Claridge - 26th November 2013

Roundabout - December 2013

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

The waiting time …..

Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting is a time of …. well, waiting can be a time full of all sorts of emotions.

Waiting can be a time of excitement. We all know the excitement that comes ahead of a holiday, counting down the days. Or the excitement that awaits the arrival of someone we haven’t seen for a long time, maybe a friend or relative from abroad.

Waiting can be a time of anxiety. People wait to hear results of examinations, of job interviews or of medical examinations. Those are times of uncertainty or worry. We sometimes need the reassurance of loved ones to get us through.

Waiting can be a time of preparation. If you’ve moved house you’ll know that waiting for the day to arrive is full of tasks. Notifying people of a change of address, cancelling amenity contracts, packing boxes, preparing curtains for the new place.

Waiting can be a time of frustration. Sometimes we seem to be waiting for ages. When will that bus arrive? Has the item I’ve been waiting for arrived in the post? Maybe we’re waiting for something but we simply don’t know when it will happen.

Waiting can sometimes be a time of all these emotions together. Parents-to-be waiting for the birth of a child know that all too well. The birth is eagerly awaited with excitement but there’s anxiety that all will go well, lots of things to prepare and sometimes frustration too, especially if the “due date” comes and goes and still the wait goes on.

Waiting at Advent contains all of these emotions too. It’s exciting that Christmas is just around the corner. Advent is a time of waiting for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. In Advent we hear again those great passages from the Jewish Scriptures about how God’s people waited with eager expectation for the arrival of the Messiah. God’s “anointed-one”. That’s what the word “Christ” (from Greek) and “Messiah” (from Hebrew) mean. Their waiting ended with the birth of Jesus and the celebration of that is rightly a time of festivity looked forward to by adults and children alike.

Advent is about so much more than Christmas though. We are called to use this waiting time as preparation for meeting Christ at the end of our days and at the end of all time. That brings with it anxiety too. When will that be? How many are the number of our days? We can’t know that. That was a message that the earliest Christians had to learn. At first people expected the return of Jesus imminently. The end of time was expected soon. Paul’s letters to various churches reflect some of the frustration that was building up in the Christian communities. They expected The End, God’s fulfilment of time and space, and they were frustrated it hadn’t happened.

We are a people that are waiting. Let us use the waiting time wisely, as we ponder on the words of the Gospel for the first Sunday of this Advent season, that our lives may show forth the glory and love of God in all we do.

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour”.

(Matthew 24 verse 44)