I have never been a patient person. When I played football at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, one of my coaches referred to me as a “microwave kid.” I wanted everything to happen now. I have a hard time waiting, and it often fills me with a paralyzing anxiety. At times, I am waiting to hear back from someone about important news. At times, I wait because I know that there is something better is coming.
Waiting has always made me feel useless, as if there is nothing left that I can do except wait for something to happen. This mode of waiting tends to happen in the church often.
Growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, we emphasized the virtue of waiting. Once we were “saved,” we were to wait for the deaths of our physical bodies so our spiritual bodies could go to heaven, where there was no pain. We just had to deal with the world as it is. In our Southern Baptist theological view, this world was going to fade away eventually, so it was important for us to accept Christ to make sure that we were going to heaven. Our time on earth is all just a waiting game.
During the Advent season, we often echo this theme of waiting. We wait for God to break into the world. We wait for the birth of Jesus, who will be the one to change everything.
This year for Advent our congregation is using the theme “Living the Journey.” This has presented an interesting perspective of Advent for us. Rather than us just simply waiting for Christ to come, we have been contemplating participation. What does it mean to participate in Advent? What does it mean for us to participate in what God is doing?
To read the full version of this article on MC USA’s Menno Snapshots blog, click here.
Jerrell Williams is pastor of Salem (Oregon) Mennonite Church.