You probably hear it every day:

“I can’t wait to get off work.”

“I can’t wait for Friday.”

“I can’t wait for that big sale.”

Our culture doesn’t much care for waiting. A sense of anticipation does not seem to be much savored these days. Yet for Christians, we are in a season of the year in which we should savor our sense of anticipation. Advent is by its nature a season that is marked by waiting. We wait for Christmas day, the celebration of the Incarnation; this is as it should be, for historically God’s people waited for centuries for the Savior that had been promised.

The amazing thing about waiting during Advent is this: it allows us just a tiny glimpse into “what if?” As in: what if swords really became plow-shares? What if dead roots sprout and grow into living trees? What if lions and lambs lay down together?What if deserts bloom? What if the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute sing, and the virgin conceives a child? What if God became just like you and me? More than 2,000 years ago, He did just that, and now our waiting is transformed. We wait for Him to return in glory, that all the rest might be fulfilled as well.

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.  But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.  It is waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for.  We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.  We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the Ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory.  We are always waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert — yes, joyful — waiting.  As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

Henri Nouwen