Waiting for God


Advent is from the Latin Adventus meaning “coming.” Advent–the four Sundays before Christmas–is a time of preparation and waiting, for the two comings of Christ: the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, when God entered the world and human history, and the future coming of the risen Christ, when all things will be made new and whole again.


Though nowadays I consider myself older and wiser, I know how much more there is for me to learn about waiting. I remember listening to and watching a fellow student preach in 1992, when I was a second year student at The Iliff School of Theology. This student was blind. As I watched her fingers touching the raised impressions of the braille translation of her Bible text and as she read aloud, I realized how much faster sight–or light–is than touch or sound.


As a sighted person, as my eyes race across the printed page, I take so much for granted. The world is oriented to speed, to sighted persons, not to the high-touch and aural, waiting pace of vision-impaired persons. To put a sermon together, this fellow student of mine had to wait for the books and other materials she needed to be translated into braille, or she had to wait for someone to have the time in her or his own busy academic schedule to read the materials aloud to her.


The pulpit was not suited to her, as it was suited to me. A table was better for her, on which she could lay her braille notes so she could read them with her fingers.


This fellow student of mine lived in a world of darkness, in a world in which light was absent. Everyday of her life, she had to wait for the coming of the light. She had to wait on the light of her other senses–of sound, touch, taste and smell “to see,” or she had to wait on the eyes of others–the eyes of the community–to make her whole.


As she preached on waiting on God to provide her with the words for her sermon, it became painfully clear to me that this fellow student of mine–this young blind woman in her twenties–had much to teach me about waiting and about the nature of God. All–Advent and Christmas and everyday living–has to do with waiting: Waiting in a way that makes one hospitable to something new, something radically different. Waiting has to do with hospitality to the promise of wholeness of life in God’s love. Waiting has to do with seeing without eyes.


Every Advent/Christmas season, we schedule many wonderful events and happenings. As we do these things, let us remember to slow down and to keep awake, even in the darkness. May we keep ourselves open in hope to the coming of Jesus Christ among us, and may we attend to the new births in ourselves and in each other every day of our lives.