Advent Reflection: What are we waiting for?

What are we waiting for?

Advent, and indeed the whole Christmas season, is a season of waiting. Waiting can be hard, even (or perhaps especially) for the child eagerly anticipating Christmas morning.  “How long?!?” is the cry many parents hear as soon as the presents appear under the tree. And no amount of chocolate in the advent calendar makes the time until Christmas morning go faster. 

As we wait for Christmas, the celebration of the coming of Jesus, I wonder if it would help to remember what we’re waiting for. It may not make the time go faster, but it perhaps it will increase the eagerness with which we wait, not only for our celebration of the (first) coming of Jesus, but for his coming again.

Isaiah 9:1-7:
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the later time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
             those who lived in a land of deep darkness –
              on them light has dawned.
    You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
             they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
              as people exult when dividing plunder.
    For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
              the rod of their oppressor,
              you have broken as on the day of Midian.
    For all the boots of the tramping warriors
              and all the garments rolled in blood
              shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
    For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
              authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
              Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    His authority shall grow continually,
             and there shall be endless peace
              for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness
             from this time onward and forevermore.
    The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Without a doubt, we are living in the later time. The child has been born, the son has been given. He has established the kingdom of God and is upholding it with justice and righteousness. This is what we’re waiting for.

And yet, this is what we’re waiting for. What was promised in Isaiah has happened, and yet it hasn’t. We’re in the time-between-the-times. We see the light of dawn but the darkness is not yet vanquished. The boots of the warriors can still he heard and blood-soaked clothing is all too common. That is why we echo the cry of the child waiting for Christmas morning, “How long, O Lord?!?”

And that’s okay. Even though we see the dawn of the first coming of Jesus more clearly than those who came before, we still see as through a glass, darkly. May our celebration of the first coming of Jesus strengthen our hope in the second coming of Jesus, when the fullness of the glory of God is revealed. Let our cry be both “How long, O Lord?!?” and “Come soon, Lord Jesus!”