I may be the worst person in the world when it comes to waiting. I think Kati would agree with me on this. At the grocery store, I am the one changing checkout lanes for the possibility of making it through the line a minute faster. I am one of the people that pre-orders everything from Apple because I cannot stand to queue up at the store. This morning, I changed lanes three times on the Yale. I will not even mention the lifespan of presents in our house (Hint: They do not make it to Christmas or birthdays). I am not good at waiting.
I do not think I am alone either. We have a society based of instantaneous gratification. Waiting is antithetical to so many societal and technological trends. Movies and television shows are on demand now through smartphones, tablets, and computers that we can take anywhere and watch anytime. Fast food is even faster than it was a generation ago because so much of it is precooked and simply reheated. In Texas, there are stretches of road where you can drive 85 miles per hour to help get you to your destination a little sooner.
This lack of waiting makes the season of Advent particularly challenging. We do not wait well in general, so an entire season of the church dedicated to waiting is difficult. And since Jesus has already come and does every Christmas, then that makes the waiting all the more arduous: we have waited before on Jesus.
Luckily, this waiting is not without activity. We are waiting in preparation for something to happen. This waiting is pregnant with expectation for this future. In many ways, we are starting our faith journey anew each Advent. We are evaluating where we are and where we are going. We are discerning where God is coming into our world in fresh ways. What has happened in the past is not necessarily predictive of where God will be in the new future and we must prepare for that. Jesus may arrive every Christmas, but neither Jesus nor we will be the same at each encounter. Advent prepares us for that reality.
This is a time of hopeful waiting. Jesus is coming. The world will change again. Our world will change in him. Wait. Prepare. Expect.