I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130: 5-6 from a Song of Ascents
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.
But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.
It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts
that makes already present what we are waiting for.
We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.
We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit,
and after the ascension of Jesus
we wait for his coming again in glory.
We are always waiting,
but it is a waiting in the conviction that
we have already seen God’s footsteps.
— Henri Nouwen from Bread For The Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
It is this great absence
that is like a presence, that compels
me to address it without hope
of a reply. It is a room I enter
from which someone has just
gone, the vestibule for the arrival
of one who has not yet come.
I modernise the anachronism
of my language, but he is no more here
than before. Genes and molecules
have no more power to call
him up than the incense of the Hebrews
at their altars. My equations fail
as my words do. What resources have I
other than the emptiness without him of my whole
being, a vacuum he may not abhor?
~R.S. Thomas “The Absence”
To wait is hard when we know the value of the gift that awaits us. We know exactly what is in the package since we have watched it being carefully chosen, wrapped and presented to us to open.
We have seen His footprints on our landscape: in the hottest dessert, in the deepest snow, in the meadows and in the forests, in the mud and muck and mire of our lives; we know He has been here and wait for His return.
Not yet though, not quite yet. So we wait, and continue to wait.
Even more so, we wait and hope for what we do not see but know is coming, like a groaning in the labor of childbirth.
The waiting is never easy; it is painful to be patient, staying alert to possibility and hope when we are exhausted, barely able to function. Others won’t understand why we wait, nor do they comprehend what we could possibly be waiting for when it remains unseen, with only the footprints left behind to remind us.
Yet we persevere together, with patience, watching and hoping, like Mary and Joseph, like Elizabeth and Zechariah, like the shepherds, like the Magi of the east, like Simeon and Anna in the temple.
This is the meaning of Advent:
we are a community groaning together in sweet anticipation and expectation of the gift of Morning to come.
I pray my soul waits for the Lord
My hope is in His word
More than the watchman waits for dawn
My soul waits for the Lord
1) Out of the depths I cry to You;
From darkest places I will call.
Incline Your ear to me anew,
And hear my cry for mercy, Lord.
Were You to count my sinful ways
How could I come before Your throne?
Yet full forgiveness meets my gaze –
I stand redeemed by grace alone.
CHORUS I will wait for You, I will wait for You,
On Your word I will rely.
I will wait for You, surely wait for You
Till my soul is satisfied.
2) So put Your hope in God alone,
Take courage in His power to save;
Completely and forever won
By Christ emerging from the grave.
3) His steadfast love has made a way,
And God Himself has paid the price,
That all who trust in Him today Find healing in his sacrifice.
I will wait for You, I will wait for You
Through the storm and through the night.
I will wait for You, surely wait for You,
For Your love is my delight.
Wait for the Lord, his day is near
Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart
Prepare the way for the Lord
Make a straight path for Him
The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed
All the Earth will see the Lord
Rejoice in the Lord always
He is at Hand
Joy and gladness for all who seek the Lord
This year’s Barnstorming Advent theme “… the Beginning shall remind us of the End” is taken from the final lines in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees”