Advent is about learning to wait for God’s new world to be born. What kind of world are we waiting for? It is a world governed by love and justice and kindness and mercy. It is the kind of world where everyone has the basic necessities of life. It is the kind of world where people don’t kill each other anymore. It is the kind of world we pray for when we say “Thy Kingdom come.”
Advent is about learning to wait while helping God bring this new world into being. We don’t just wait for God to give birth to this new world. We assist God. We love our neighbors. We advocate for laws and policies that are just. We make room for everyone at the table. God needs our help, but we also realize that in the end the full coming of this new world is up to God.
Advent is about learning to wait even when nothing seems to be happening. Over the years I have buried many faithful men and women who spent a lifetime helping God give birth to a new world governed by love. I have often wondered how they felt at the end, especially if their last years were spent in a time of social unrest and turmoil. Did they feel like last Sunday’s psalmist?
“ To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you;
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me” (Ps. 25.1).
Were they, like the psalmist, wondering whether waiting on God was worth it? Like the psalmist, were they saying, “Hey, I put my bet on you, God. So don’t let me down now. Don’t let my enemies shame me by saying, ‘I told you that you should never have put your trust in God’?”
Therefore, Advent is also about learning to wait even when there is no discernible progress towards this new world. But you know what? I have never had any of these faithful people despair at the end. In spite of the lack of progress, they don’t lament all the years they fought the good fight. In fact, I sense that they discovered the truth that Jesus tells the disciples, “But about that day or hour no one knows” (Mk. 13.32a). They discovered that their job was not to be preoccupied with when the kingdom would come in its fullness; their job was to keep loving God and neighbor and leave the rest to God. My hunch is that all their years of loving and generosity convinced them that such love and generosity would eventually reign supreme. Let us learn to patiently wait for God’s new world to be born as we continue to live that new world now.