Longing: An Advent Reflection
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As we mark the “halfway point” of Advent, we pause to reflect upon both the past and the future. We look to the past in wonder, awe, and amazement that God, who created everything out of nothing, who holds the universe in check, humbled himself and became human for the sake of our salvation. We look ahead to the future with hope in His promise that He will come again. The song O Holy Night exclaims “The thrill of hope...a weary world rejoices...” Yet often our weary world makes it difficult to hope. We see evidence of division within the Church, in our nation, and in our families. We see the effects of sin in our lives and the lives of those we love. Sometimes it may feel like God is distant from us or not listening to our cries. The world is still plagued with poverty, violence, and political unrest. We may feel the future is so uncertain. With so many seeming reasons to doubt or question, how can we experience the thrill of hope? It seems that there are two primary reactions to waiting or longing. We either wait in despair or we wait in hope. Waiting in despair is like waiting for our number to be called at the DMV. We lose our patience. We become angry. We begin to judge others. We feel like there is no end in sight. We ask ourselves if it is really worth the wait. Waiting in hope, however, does not forget that the wait is completely worth it. There is joy in the journey. We grow in patience. We act in kindness. We love others. We know the end result and trust that it will come to be. Waiting in joyful hope, experiencing the thrill of hope is what the Christian journey is all about. As we look forward to the coming of Christ, we can do so despairingly, that is we see all that is going wrong around us and “can’t wait” for it all to be over. Or we CAN WAIT and do so joyfully with the same longing, the pining that the Jewish people felt as they spent their lives waiting for the promised Messiah.
“Christ's promise is not diminished by the situations we face. The trials of our lives are not causes for despair, but hope.”
Christ’s promise is not diminished by the situations we face. The trials of our lives are not causes for despair, but hope. He promises us that He will come again. He promised a day where there will be no more sadness, no more tears, no more pain. He offers us the tools we need to make it to that day. How can we not look ahead in hope?
So, what do we long for? What are we waiting for?
Do we long for the Lord to send us a sign or answer to life’s big questions like, “Is God calling me to be a priest?”
Do we long for our children to find happiness or return to the Lord?
Do we long for peace in our lives?
Do we long for healing in our relationships?
Are we waiting for something in our lives to change?
Are we waiting to make a decision?
Whatever it is that we long for, let us do so in joyful hope. We do this by looking back at how God has taken care of us in the past. We remember His promise. We acknowledge that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Then, we look to the future in joyful hope.