Advent: The Discipline of Waiting

November 27, 2017  |  Craig St. John

By Pastor Riccardo Stewart

Christians spanning across denominations, traditions, and history take time during this season each year to remember, wait, and anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox alike have taken the time to practice the discipline of waiting and celebrating the incarnation and second coming of Christ. The word advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus, means “coming” or “arrival.” Historically, the Church has designated on its liturgical calendar the four Sundays leading up to Christmas as the season of Advent in order to intentionally remember the arrival and birth of Jesus Christ in his first coming, and the joy that he has brought to the world through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The season of Advent also creates space for followers of Jesus to anticipate or practice the discipline of waiting for the second coming of Jesus, when he will make all things new (Rev. 21:5).

We actually need to put forth effort into practicing the discipline of waiting, because waiting hardly comes naturally to us. Waiting is like swimming upstream, because the cultural currents in which we swim cause us to drift toward impatience and complaining, rather than waiting. We don’t like waiting traffic. We don’t like waiting on service at a restaurant. We don’t like waiting on the French press, Chemex, AeroPress, Keurig—whatever we use. We can’t even wait in short lines without complaining. Waiting seems like a thing of the past, given every new technological advancement that makes life faster and more convenient. It’s my observation that many in our day do not know how to enjoy or wait for anything. Advent reminds us that life is not about being faster or more convenient, but that good things come to those who wait, especially those who wait on the Lord.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Ps. 27:14).

If the act of waiting is a discipline or practice that needs to be cultivated, we should ask what are some things we can do as a community in the season of Advent to cultivate this discipline.

This week, as we look forward to beginning Advent on Sunday, let’s come up with simple ways to practice waiting in the daily mundane activities of life. For example, when I’m sitting at a red light, instead of anticipating that the light would change to my directional advantage, I could instead remind myself that Jesus is coming soon, which is good news for the entire world, not just for me. As I wait in a line at the grocery store, I ought to remind myself that God, in Christ, is making all things new. We all need to try to slow down the busyness of our lives to create time and space to remember, learn, and rest in the person of Christ. Personally, I have found that a good book for Advent along with daily Advent readings with my family are help me wait and remember Jesus during this season. Our world and all of creation is in desperate need of the Savior to return to once and for all heal the vast brokenness all around us. Jesus is coming; let us prepare our hearts and homes for his return. Let’s join with creation and develop a groaning for Jesus to come again.

Together, let’s sing Maran-atha (Aramaic for “our Lord has come”), Marana-tha (Aramaic for “our Lord, come”)!

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Rm. 8:22).

Below are some helpful resources for you, your family, and your friends as you anticipate the coming of the Lord throughout this season of Advent.

8 New Resources for Advent from The Gospel Coalition

Bible themes videos from The Bible Project