Excerpt from Pauses for Advent

Read Psalm 27:13 – 14

Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

—Psalm 27:14

We often hear pastors say that Advent is all about waiting. But many people find that statement puzzling. After all, how do we wait for someone who has already come? Didn’t Jesus come to us at Bethlehem? Didn’t he also — after his resurrection and ascension — remain with us in his Spirit? What does it mean, then, to wait for someone who is with us right now?

Theologian Walter Burghardt, SJ, suggest that Mary helps us solve this puzzle. From the moment the angel leaves her, she knows that Jesus lives inside her. But, she still has to wait. He is there, and yet he is still not there. Eventually, after months of active waiting and of preparing for his coming, Jesus is born to her and placed in a manger. He is who Mary has been waiting for. He comes to her from within her. Like Mary, we wait for Jesus who is already present within and around us to be birthed into our lives.

In our waiting, we don’t sit back and do nothing. Our waiting is active, energetic, and deliberate. We pray as we wait, responding to the stirrings of the Spirit within us and loving those closest to us. We remain hopeful as we wait, believing that Jesus will come to us and to those who walk in darkness. All this we do in the confident expectation that Jesus will meet us with his living presence. 

In the meantime, we wait in the ways mentioned, heeding at all time the words of the psalmist: Be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Daily Practice

Throughout the day, whenever you find yourself waiting — whether in line at the grocery store, in a traffic jam, in a doctor’s office, or in the school pickup line — consider what waiting for the Lord means within the context of your present life.

Hudson, Trevor. Pauses for Advent: Words of Wonder. (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2017), 31 – 32.