If we played the Word Association game, what would you respond to the word, “Advent?” I’ll bet it would be at least some of the following: Waiting, longing, anticipation, preparation, sacrifice, prayer, hope, yearning, expectation, suspense, watchfulness, vigilance, ardor, striving, pretension, or even eagerness.
Yes, Advent involves all of these things and more as we await the birth of the Savior of the World. We strive, pray, sing, prepare, and busy ourselves with the seemingly millions of devotions and demands that are placed on us as we get ready for Christmas. Most of all, we wait, and that can be pretty difficult at times, can’t it?
We wait for Jesus, but have we ever considered that he waits for us? This morning, I ran across this quote (below) from Mother Teresa, and it gave me pause. I’ve read about, written about, spoken about, and prayed about, the way Jesus waits for us to open our hearts to him so that he can dwell lovingly within us as he so very much desires. I’ve considered the way he waits for the faithful to become more fervent, for sinners to convert, and for non-believers to believe. Of course, that’s what our Lord does, isn’t it?
“Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?… The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes – to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us. And so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you. Not only that He loves you, but even more – He longs for you.” – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
I have to admit that it has never occurred to me that Jesus waits for us during Advent as much – or maybe more than – we wait for him. His love is so great, so all-encompassing… How could he not be anxiously, expectantly, waiting to be reborn in our hearts at Christmas? Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s quote helped me to realize that Advent for Jesus also is a time of waiting, longing, anticipation, preparation, sacrifice, prayer, hope, yearning, expectation, suspense, watchfulness, vigilance, ardor, striving, pretension, and eagerness.
Because he is the Omnipotent God, Jesus’ waiting may look somewhat different from our own, but it is waiting nonetheless. In fact, I wonder if, in some respects, his waiting is harder than ours, since he knows all, sees all, and hears all. He knows everything that is in the heart of every human being – whether it’s hopeful yearning or stubborn rejection. If we’re rejoicing, he rejoices with us. If we’re hurting, he’s hurting with us. He knows our longing, and he feels it himself.
I no longer see Advent as a one-sided deal: us waiting for the Savior to come on Christmas. Instead, I see us waiting anxiously for our Lord to come as he anxiously waits to come to us. For me, this adds a whole new dimension to Advent. He isn’t some story-book baby in a manger; he’s the living Jesus, and he waits for us, perhaps even more than we wait for him.