Today I got a text from a friend asking if I had heard anything about the visa I am waiting on before buying my plane ticket to Central Asia. I sighed and while turning onto 225 I wrote back that nothing had come in the mail, and I am struggling not to be anxious. I as playing catch and release with a blue chevy cobalt driven by an asian with a foo man choo that was just a liiiiiitle too long. And yes, I was texting while driving, doing something entirely illegal and even more dangerous. But she didn’t know that, which is probably good because that would have given cause for a second lecture and the next text I recieved was plenty to think about:
I will [pray]…waiting is hard. That’s what advent is for…
Jesus comes next week. I mean, he is already here, or so they say. But he isn’t really here. He didn’t abandon us, per se, but he isn’t walking around my neighbourhood, enjoying that delicious goat cheese rolled in garlic and herbs while we watch an episode of Bones, he isn’t answering my questions and challenging my status quos. No, the person of the Trinity doing that is the Holy Spirit, and she is much more ephemeral and therefor, a bit more challenging to perceive than the walking, talking Jew with a rough woven robe and worn leathery hands from years of working with wood.
Jesus comes next week. I wish he would hurry up and get here. I am not a very patient person. I wonder what it’s like to be a Jew, waiting even now for Messiah to come? Chanukkah just passed, Menorah’s were lit and prayers whispered. He’s coming, they must have told each other. Just like he came through in the temple when we had run out of oil to keep the lamps burning, he’ll come through, he always does. But when? When?
Jesus comes next week. Will my visa come next week? I think I know a small idea of what the anticipation was like. Anna was waiting, praying and fasting in the temple, waiting her whole widowed life. Zechariah waited 9 silent months for his son, and his wife’s cousin was carrying Messiah. They had been waiting for years. They had been waiting for centuries. God had been silent, where was he? There were no prophets! There were only the Macabees and pigs slaughtered on the altar, there were the Herodians and no heirs of David. There were only glimpses, nothing hard and fast, nothing worth counting on.
Kayak keeps sending me price alerts on various flight dates to Central Asia. It’s like a beacon of hope: I’ll be able to afford that but not yet because I don’t have the papers to enter the country. I packed away clothes that I won’t be needing and left out my salwar kameez. I’ll be wearing that but not yet because I’ve no place to wear it. They are little samples, little glimpses that are hopeful.
Jesus is coming. Jesus came. But he also hasn’t come entirely. He atoned for it all. But there is still sin. He paid that price. But there is still strife. He fed the masses. But there is still hunger ravaging children across the world. He made the lame walk and the blind to see. But there are still more children dying malaria than aids because the world can’t buy them mosquito nets. He redefined the temple a symbol of politics and religion. But politicians are still corrupt and the church is still greedy. He came. He conquered. He sent the Helper.* But he is coming again. And like the Jews always have, we are holding our breath, waiting for when he arrives in glory and we welcome him like a conquering hero come home to a proud and triumphant nation. We are waiting, because there is still something wrong here. It’s like a half way point.
All creation groans.
All creation is waiting.
All creation is breathless.
Can you hear it in the silence?
Can you hear it, soft and gentle, like the snow falling, brushing against the window pane?
Can you feel it in the air?
Can you taste it in the wine?
Can you smell it in the candles, low and bright?
Jesus is coming.
My heart jumps at the thought and tears spring to my eyes.** He’s coming. Soon, I think, or hope and pray. He’s coming and the world will be set to rights. I sometimes feel I stand beside Jewish brothers and sisters and whisper: I know what you’re thinking. I know what you’re feeling. I know what you’re fearing.
Will I have quit my job for nothing? Will the visa never arrive? Will I never board that plane?
Will we have waited in vain? Will he never come as he promised? Will we never be caught up, captive in his train?
We’re waiting. Always waiting.***
But I have heard the rumour. I can feel the change in the wind come off the mountains. I can taste it in the dryness of my mouth after cheap wine has doused the bread. I can smell it in the pine of the glowing tree wound with ribbons and baubbles. I believe. I know.
He is on the move.
Happy Advent. Happy Waiting.
*Or the Father sent her. Parakletos, the early church split based on who you proceeded from… but does it really matter from whence you came?
**Yeah, yeah, I’m a weeper. Whatcha gonna do?
***Always winter. But never Christmas.