Active Waiting During Advent

Advent is a period of hopeful waiting. The first readings for the masses these day are all from the Book of Isaiah. They paint different pictures of the coming Messiah and the Kingdom He will bring about:

Creation will be re-created and and the Messiah will establish a Kingdom where everyone will live in peace and harmony:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

The Lord will inaugurate His Kingdom and lay out great feast and celebration for all peoples:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.

In the Kingdom of the Messiah, justice and righteousness will prevail:

Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone.

At the coming of God’s Kingdom, the earth will be fruitful, rich and abundant again, forever:

He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your flock will be given pasture
and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows;
The oxen and the asses that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.

But people have to make preparations for the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom:

In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

During Advent, we await the coming of the Messiah in our lives. This is not a passive kind of waiting. It is an active and dynamic anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. Even as we wait for the coming of God’s Kingdom, we do what we can in our daily lives to prepare for the coming of that Kingdom. As we contemplate the vision of God’s Kingdom, we slowly make it a reality in our everyday undertakings. My favorite spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, shares how we can do this:

Every time we forgive our neighbor,
every time we make a child smile,
every time we show compassion to a suffering person,
every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals,
prevent pollution,
create beauty in our homes and gardens,
and work for peace and justice among peoples and nations,
we are making the vision come true.

This is my prayer during this Advent Season.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
~ Psalm 80

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Matthew 17:10-13

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