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Waiting for God's Presence

“I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him*  In his word is my hope” Psalm 130:4, BCP

“I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him*

           In his word is my hope” Psalm 130:4, BCP


Dear Friends in Christ,


Is it still Advent? This season before Christmas will go quickly this year: the fourth “week” of Advent will last about three hours this Sunday. We celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent in the morning and Christmas Eve in the afternoon and evening. And yet we still have to wait a few more days, a few more hours until Christmas is here!


My father is a priest, and growing up, Christmas mornings drew Advent out a little bit more. Often, I would have to wait to open the presents until my dad got back from the Christmas morning service. And oh! I could see all those presents there under the tree!! How could I wait any longer? And yet, soon Dad would come home, the family would gather, and patiently, each of us would open a present and enjoy the moment, the laughter, the thoughtfulness, the surprise, the wonder, the gratitude for every kindness, the beauty of every bow and ribbon, the delight in every decoration and delicacy brought out for the feast.


Like nearly all of the church’s practices, Advent is practice for the rest of our lives. Waiting, expectation, turning our lives more closely toward God, patience, anticipation—all of these Advent qualities are gems of the Christian life in every season. Our world has become so impatient, not content with ideas more than 280 characters or 15 seconds, in a hurry for the next thing, eager to fill time and anxious with silence. We have lost the virtue of submission—being submitted to others, being submitted to the moment, being submitted to God.


But Advent waiting asks of us this submission, this focus that is attentive without being demanding, open to what God might give us, patient enough to quiet our hearts and minds enough to feel God’s presence. And when we are aware of God’s presence, all the words and worries we brought with us take a back seat to the grace of God—God’s love for us that is unearned and undeserved, God’s love for us that overcomes our fleeting worries with the eternity-filling presence of God with us.


This is the promise of Advent—not an empty waiting, but a waiting oriented and driving inexorably toward Christmas, toward the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God-with-us in Jesus. In Advent, we practice waiting for the presence of God, the best of all presents.


God bless you this Advent and bring you to the joys of Christmas!


Yours in Christ,


-Tom

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