‘And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.’ – Psalm 39 v7From Toni Clark:
Advent is one of my favourite times of the year. When I was small, opening the Advent Calendar doors were a lovely countdown to Christmas. When I was a nanny in Denmark, I remember having a chat with my two young charges as to why I didn’t have an Advent Calendar. I said I thought people thought I was too old for one. A little while later Thomas disappeared into his room for a couple of hours – whenever I went to see if he was ok I got told to “go away – I’m busy”. He reappeared with his hands behind his back and said “you know how you said you were too old for an Advent Calendar – well I have made you one” and from behind his back he gave me an calendar he had made for me – 2 sheets of A4 paper stuck on top of each other. The top sheet had 24 doors, all with numbers on and sellotaped shut, and behind each door was a tiny drawing. The countdown to Christmas was extra special that year…..and I still have that Advent Calendar.
Advent is a time of waiting. Whilst the world waits for Christmas – the countdown to time off work, time with friends and family, waiting for Father Christmas, exchanging gifts and lots to eat and drink – we as Christians are waiting for something more precious, much more important and valuable, we are waiting for Jesus. Advent is our annual reminder of the waiting for Jesus’ birth over 2000 years ago. It is also a time for us to remember that we are waiting for Jesus’ return, but it can also be a time for us to reflect on what else we might be waiting for in our lives, things we might be praying for.
This year it’s an odd time. With the relaxation of the rules, we can meet family who we may not have seen for months because of Coronavirus, but we may feel anxious about doing so, worried about spreading the virus to older relatives or catching it from younger ones. Friends I’ve spoken to have talked about waiting to see how things develop over the next couple of weeks before making a decision. Waiting this Advent has taken on a whole new meaning.
But this verse for me is a wonderful summary of Advent – ‘And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.’ Throughout this year there seems to have been a lot of waiting, waiting to see how the virus is spreading, waiting to see if people will still have a job, waiting to see family and friends again, and now in this Advent season, waiting to see what will happen as lockdown is eased and people can bubble with their families for Christmas. It can be hard to wait, hard to wait for the vaccines to be tested and made available, hard to wait for life to return to some sort of normality again. When the waiting feels hard, remember this verse – we wait with hope, the sure and certain hope of eternal life because of Jesus’ death on the cross, the sure and certain hope that in these times of waiting, God is with us, we are not alone, we can put our hope in Him knowing that the waiting will not be in vain.
As we wait this Advent, can I encourage you to wait with hope in the Lord, to pray with hope and be joyful in that hope?