What Are You Waiting For?

The season of Advent is a time of waiting. The word ‘Advent’ itself derives from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning to come, to arrive but also to develop or arise. It has ancient Roman connotations with the glorious celebrations surrounding the arrival of a victorious General entering the city and receiving adulation.

For us as Christians, of course, it is a time for us to await the ‘arrival’ of Jesus, in the sense of waiting for Christmas and celebrating again his birth; that moment in history when everything changed – the world changed, humankind changed, and in a sense, God changed – at least in the sense that He experienced for the first time what it is to be born, to be human.

I wonder, what are you waiting for this Advent? What might arise or develop this season in your life?

As a child, I remember longing for presents, for Christmas dinner, for the excitement and joy of opening up my Christmas stocking and enjoying the treats within – little things that seemed very special back then, like the annual satsuma! I am so blessed that I had a wonderful childhood, and a big, loving family. I still feel like, and in a sense still am, that little boy who so loved being at home, feeling utterly safe and loved and special.

Our childhood experiences are, I think, very important in forming us, and I guess for me the flipside of having such a wonderful childhood is that, of course, it could not last! My expectations were perhaps raised – maybe I thought I would always be treated that way. But, of course, life does not turn out to be a place where we always feel safe, loved or special. On the contrary, sometimes we can feel decidedly unsafe, unloved and terribly inferior. Rather than feeling special and welcome, people can make us feel as though we are insignificant and unworthy of their time. I imagine we have all had such experiences, perhaps in school, in jobs, in our friendships and families where we are left feeling hurt, let down, disappointed – and naturally our expectations start to come down and our guard starts to go up.

As adults, our experiences of disappointment can lead us to losing joy, and losing too that child-like sense of wonder, hope and expectation that we used to have. We can tend to feel jaded, and find ourselves going into a new season, a new environment or a new relationship with a sense of wariness and fear – a little voice inside us saying “Be careful. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t get hurt again… you’re bound to be disappointed!” etc.

What about you? What’s your situation? And what are you waiting for this Advent? What might arise and develop?

Among the most important things for me is to remember that:

1. God utterly loves me (and His love is not contingent on my being perfect, thankfully!)
2.Heaven will be amazing, and no matter what trials I might suffer in my life, it’s all the merest blink of an eye compared with eternity in paradise, where there is no more pain, suffering, or death and when God will wipe away every tear as we live with Him and with each other in loving community, forever.

So, not that I’m looking forward to death, as such (I rather like life, mostly) but because of Jesus, there is definitely something to look forward to despite all the mess and the heartache we experience in this life. And it’s because of that, I think, that hope arises and love develops in my soul. I feel much more hopeful and optimistic in this life and I hope that this shows itself increasingly in my love for God and for other people.

What am I looking forward to this Advent? Coming to Jesus as a child again. Celebrating the glorious arrival of the all-conquering Jesus, every day, in my life and yours. Because without Him, there is no hope. But with Him, the fear, hate, death and the thousand little losses we suffer in this lifetime are utterly overwhelmed and so the present is hope-filled, and the future is one of coming home, and of forever feeling – and being – utterly safe and loved and special.

Simon Lace, 06/12/2021