I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. (Psalm 130:5, ESV)
Less than a week ago, I walked along the fringes of the LPGA International golf courses as a spectator for the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. The opportunity to gain exempt status on the LPGA Tour comes around only once a year. I remember the weeks and months leading up to this event as a time of waiting and anticipation, both as a first-time participant long ago and as a tour veteran as my career came to a close.
Jesus’ physical birth is essential in God’s love story, but if this is all we wait for during the Christmas season, then we are missing out on the full measure of God’s redeeming love for us.Waiting because this one week determines the next 12 months of a tour player’s existence. Anticipation for the chance to chase our dreams on the premier women’s golf tour in the world. It comes and goes in the blink of an eye and only 20 hopeful players each year leave with the coveted exempt LPGA Tour card.
The start of the 2016 LPGA Qualifying Tournament coincided with the first week of Advent. Advent is a spiritual season of waiting and covers the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The word Advent is from the Latin, and means “coming.” The only thing I remember about Advent from my limited church experience growing up is the lighting of a different colored candle each Sunday. Otherwise, I had no understanding that the season of Advent was actually about waiting and anticipating Jesus’ coming.
Recently, I read in The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life, by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister: “But Advent is not about one coming; it is about three comings. The great spiritual question the season poses for each of us is, which coming are you and I waiting for now? At this moment of our lives, at this present stage of our spiritual development, what we’re waiting for surely determines how we will wait for it.”
The first and most obvious coming during Advent that we wait to celebrate is the physical birth of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, we read that Mary gave birth and laid Jesus in a manger. Jesus’ physical birth is essential in God’s love story, but if this is all we wait for during the Christmas season, then we are missing out on the full measure of God’s redeeming love for us.
The second coming is the ongoing presence of God available to us today—Immanuel, God with us. As followers of Jesus, God’s presence, through his Holy Spirit, manifests in our souls through his Word, in remembrance of communion, and in community with others. God’s presence is eternally in and with us because of Jesus.
The final coming during Advent is the Parousia, which is an ancient Greek word meaning presence or arrival, or what we know as the future Second Coming—Jesus’ promised return. When I read that Advent, waiting and anticipation for the coming of Jesus, is much more than just the birth narrative, I found myself asking, “What am I actually waiting for? Does my soul ache for his return?”
In these three comings—past (Jesus’ birth), present (his presence), and future (his return)—the season of Advent is the opportunity to renew our focus on the joy of living a life connected to the One who came to show us the way. My hope for you and me this Advent season is that we will join Sister Joan and “learn the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in a sense of the presence of God all around us, the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future.”
May our souls wait and hope for more.
December 7, 2016
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