Kelly Stout reminds us in her reflection on “Advent and Barrenness” that we do not wait for the Lord in vain:
There are many ways the word “wait” is used in the English language. I could be “waiting” for a bus, as in expecting something to happen soon that I know will eventually happen. I could be “waiting” for the day I pay off my student loans, as in looking forward to something spectacular. I could be “waiting” for my friend to arrive off the plane at an airport, as in being in a state of readiness for something to occur.
As a couple who lost our first child in a miscarriage, had our second child through domestic infant adoption, and had our third child through conception and birth, we have learned to use the word “wait” sparingly. It can have a glaringly awful connotation to those going through any of these life events.
“Just wait, it will happen for you eventually!” – A comment said by many (who mean well) to those who are barren or have lost a child to miscarriage (when in fact, it may very well not happen).
“Now that your documents are completed, we just wait for the courts to approve this.” – A sentence every adoptive parent trembles at in anticipation of having an adoption finalized.
“We need to wait for the next ultrasound results before we can make any recommendations.” – A scary statement for any couple “waiting” for a child through pregnancy.
The fact of the matter is – sometimes waiting is excruciating.
In Advent, we wait for our Lord. “Wait,” as in expecting something to happen soon that I know will eventually happen…as in looking forward to something spectacular… as in being in a state of readiness for something to occur. Oh great, again, we wait. But why does the wait of Advent have such a different connotation than the waiting associated with miscarriage, barrenness, adoption, and birth? That is simple.
First, there are no questions about what WILL happen. I don’t have to wonder what is coming at the end of this wait. I know that my Lord – the baby born in a manger, the God man who died on a cross for me, the creator of heaven and earth, the God who gave me all three of my wonderful children (one being a child I am waiting to meet someday) – I know that my Lord IS coming. The assurance of what WILL happen is a gift from our Lord.
Secondly (and the best part about this type of waiting), my Lord already comes to me through Word and Sacrament. I don’t have to endure this wait without Him. His faith is brought to me by hearing His Word. His true body and blood are present for me in Communion. Kneeling at His table, I have a piece of the heaven I have been waiting for all this time. The Christ Child we speak of during Advent provides comfort, forgiveness, and eternal life through His death and resurrection. These gifts are enough to sustain me through all the waits I have in this life.
To make the moment at the Communion rail even sweeter, I also know that my child who endured an earthly death is there with the angels, the archangels, all the company of heaven, and me. We are joined in perfect communion with all the saints.
The fact of the matter is – sometimes waiting is heavenly.