The word Advent is Latin meaning ‘arrival’. Advent is a season marked by waiting for God’s arrival. It is a season of anticipation and hope that God will show up. We mark this season by looking back at the prophets of old, considering their hope-filled foretelling of the arrival of God’s Messiah. We also mark Advent by considering our waiting for Christ’s return, that day when Christ will come and bring about the fullness of justice, healing and restoration that our world desperately pines for. We also consider the places in our lives where we wait with hope for God to arrive. We wait for healing. We wait for relationships to be restored, reconciled. We wait for transformation. We wait to belong, to be happy. We wait to be understood, loved. We wait for God in countless ways.
This past Sunday I offered some ideas on how we can wait for the Lord with eager anticipation during the season of Advent. Here, again, are those suggestions:
- Create An Advent Calendar of People. The idea here is to come up with a list of 24 people whom you want to honor, reach out to, or encourage in some way. Each day as we wait for Christmas Day, you take one person and pray for them or reach out to them in some meaningful way. Perhaps this is a list of 24 people who are working for justice. Perhaps it is a list of people who are encouraging to you. Or perhaps it is 24 people you would like to connect with in some way.
- Set time for prayer and meditation. Perhaps it’s as simple as blocking the first 10 minutes of your day for prayer. Perhaps it is creating an advent wreath and lighting candles that mark your time of waiting. Or you can use the daily devotionals that we include in the Worship Folder each week. Every day from now until Christmas, spend time with God in prayer and meditation.
- Commit to learning about an issue of justice or righteousness during Advent. I think of issues like mass incarceration, immigration, human trafficking, racial injustice, issues centered around poverty, creation care, etc. Maybe there is another issue God has placed on your heart. Read a book. Write prayers of prophetic lament around these injustices and generate plans of action to respond to them. Identify activists, peacemakers, and faith leaders who are working to bring light into the darkness.
- Mark moments of divine interruption. Jesus came in an unexpected way, born in a manger and born in a little town during days that were chaotic. It was easy to miss. Don’t miss what God has for you now. Pay attention. Perhaps bring a notepad with you wherever you go. Jot a note when you notice something holy or divine. Set out candles in your house that you only light to mark a moment of God’s presence or God’s action. Where do you see God? Start by looking for God. This will aid in paying attention, and in bringing praise to God!
- Practice generosity to places that bring hope in our community or world. Perhaps you give a gift to an international Christian organization. Perhaps you give time or resources to the Community Action Center. Efforts like Operation Joy, Hillcrest Village or the Faribault food shelf (there is real need there right now!) are all ways that the CAC brings hope to our communities. You could give to the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an organization supported by Emmaus. Or give to any of the hope-filled missionaries we support.
These are only five ideas. Each demonstrates a waiting for God that is active and generous. We wait for God. Let our waiting reflect the living hope that we have in Jesus our King, the Prince of Peace, the hope of the world.