There I stood, waiting. I was not alone, there were many others waiting as well. Waiting to check out, waiting for service, waiting to be done, to get lunch, to go home; we were all in a sad excuse for a line, waiting. Of course we all knew there would be waiting, it was Black Friday. Our line was different than all the others though. The people in this line were smart people, we carefully searched the department store for an obscure checkout in the middle of boys coats with only 5 people in line. Still, we waited. The computer was running slow today, we had to give our email address and update our information, and each and everyone had to check and see what coupons would make their deal even better and how much could be saved if we opened a new credit card with the store. Waiting.
Then, at church I hear scriptures read about waiting; waiting 400 years, waiting a lifetime. The preacher shares the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, waiting a half a lifetime for a child. When it is finally clear that the joy of a daughter or son will never be theirs, they devote their lives to serving God and praying for God’s Messiah to finally come. Years of waiting as a couple, coming to grips with something that may never happen for them, yet their hope shifts to a greater reality. Regardless if they have a child, God is up to something in His world to redeem it and bring it back to His intentions for its original design. Waiting.
Confronted by the scriptures I was forced to acknowledge the vast difference between my waiting and much of the waiting in our culture today and that of the past. We are the fast-food, high speed culture. Our impatience meters go off after 45 seconds. We start checking our watches and cell phones within minutes and become frustrated and share our opinions with everyone on how this line could move faster. I got thinking, with this perspective and reality, how can I conceive of waiting a lifetime or 400 years. Is there anything worth waiting for a lifetime? Is there anything that is worth waiting for beyond my lifetime? If so, how might that change my attitudes and behaviour in the waiting of “daily living?”
I have to admit, as a pastor often I viewed and experienced Advent in the church as a preparation and waiting for Christmas day. It was a build up to the annual celebration of Christ’s birth. Though we looked forward to the Children’s Christmas play, and the big church production, and the warm glow of the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, we were also glad to have it all over. The wait every year was focused on Christmas Day and getting though the season. What if however, it is not about the wait for all that at all, what if it is about a longer wait, a wait of 10 or 20, 100 or 200, 400 or 500 years on longing after the fulfillment of all God has promised and started in the coming of Jesus Christ. If we were in touch with that “wait” how might it transform all our waiting. How might patience, humility, gentleness, and love be fostered in those who wait for something far beyond what the waiting in the checkout at the store can ever hope to offer.