The season of Advent is all about waiting. Every year we walk through the same Old Testament prophecies and revisit the familiar New Testament stories which anticipate the coming of the Messiah. We do so not because we have forgotten them, but because we want to catch a fresh sense of the wonder and importance of the first coming of Jesus. And at the same time we naturally anticipate his second coming, and remind ourselves that this day and this season are not for ever. One day Jesus will return, just as he promised.
Here on this earth we are always in a state of waiting. This life is not the end of the story. God has something much better in store for us. In this life we see endless clues to the one to come, but God’s perfect future for us is always obscured by sin, distraction, tiredness and fear. We catch many glimpses of the world to come, but that’s all they are - precious, tantalizing glimpses.
Our life now is, therefore, one of waiting. That could sound very dull and static. However, the Old Testament word for waiting is totally different from that. The Hebrew word kavveh which we translate “wait” is to be found in passages like Psalm 27,14. “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart.” Kavveh has the sense of waiting with anticipation, or sitting on the edge of your seat longing to see what is going to happen next. That is the way that God wants us to live. Not waiting with a yawn and with a sense of dull resignation but waiting with eagerness and confidence in God’s future.
This is a really tough time for many of us. The Baptist Union of Great Britain like so many organizations is in the process of making massive budget cuts. A number of us have been informed that our present roles are coming to an end. It is a painful and difficult time. But the dreary economic climate in which we live must not be allowed to have the last word! God has the last word, and whatever our circumstances we have reason to be confident as we anticipate the future that he has prepared for us.
There is always a temptation to miss Advent out in our headlong rush for Christmas. The huge Christmas commercial juggernaut certainly has no time for Advent. But that is an agonizing oversight. We need to worship and to refocus on a God who never lets his people down – a God whose future for us is so exciting that we should all be on the edge of our seats.
(I have just recorded a brief reflection on the present challenges that we are facing as a Union. You can access it on the Baptist Union website or directly on YouTube. It is entitled A PRAYER IN CHALLENGING TIMES. You may find it helpful for your private devotions or for use in a worship service – or both!)