Advent is a season of waiting: four weeks to remember the anticipation of that first Christmas, the expectation of the birth of Jesus. To wait on God—that’s the heart of our faith. We are people who live in expectation of God’s advent in our lives and in the world.
The Bible, from the first page to the last, reads like a book about waiting—for the promised land, for the end of exile, for the Messiah, and, in the concluding chapter, in the book of Revelation, waiting for the day of judgment and Christ’s return. “Come, Lord Jesus” we read in the final verses of the Bible (Revelation 22:20). The end of the book is about waiting, about calling out to Jesus to come back, to save us from what we’ve done to God’s world.
To wait for salvation is a consistent theme in the Psalter, the heart of the Bible. “You are the God of my salvation,” the psalmist prays, “for you I wait all day long” (Psalm 25:5). In these verses of our psalm, we hear the ache of hope, the psalmist calling out for God to take notice of our human condition, our plight. “Be mindful of your mercy ... remember your steadfast love” (25:6). The psalmist longs for salvation, for God’s mercy and love.
During Advent we discover that the wait is bearable, the longing tolerable, the ache sufferable, because God waits with us. The promise revealed in Advent is that God submits to Mary, that God trusts Mary, that God waits inside a human life. And if God waited with Mary, then we trust that God now waits with us, the gospel inside of us, the promise of God’s life within ours.
Isaac S. Villegas was pastor of Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Fellowship and president of the governing board of the North Carolina Council of Churches when this article appeared.