Advent: The Weight of Waiting
In the 2004 Pixar film, The Incredibles, there is a scene that became meme-worthy over the years. Bob Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) comes home after a tough day at work, gets out of his car and sees a little boy on a tricycle staring at him. Bob looks at him and asks, “Well, what are YOU waiting for?” The little boy sheepishly replies, “I don’t know. Something amazing, I guess.” Beat down, Bob sighs and mumbles to himself, “Me too, kid.”
Waiting is an inevitable part of the human experience. We wait in line at grocery stores and gas stations. We wait for test results and true love. We wait for wages and weekends. We wait. There are whole rooms dedicated to waiting at doctors and dentists offices all over the world. Waiting is baked into our everyday lives.
But the tricycle boy was waiting on something different. Something less mundane. There was a weight to his waiting for he was waiting for the arrival of something new. His waiting is more in line with what the Advent season calls us to each year.
The word advent comes from the latin word “adventus” which means arrival or coming. For over 1600 years now, Christians have participated in an intentional season of preparation leading up to Christmas Day, but the practice and preparation of waiting by the people of God dates back far longer than the 4th century. Ever since sin entered into the world, humans have felt the effects deeply, longing for “all the sad things come untrue,” as Sally Lloyd Jones so poignantly catches in the Jesus Storybook Bible. It was at that moment, the true meaning of Advent was born, for God made Adam and Eve a promise that he was going to send a Savior. Genesis 3:15 says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This is a foreshadowing of both the first and the second advent of Jesus. As we read the Scriptures over and over again, we begin to trace the story of the people of God as one of hardship and suffering with a longing to be delivered into a life of wholeness and flourishing. We feel their angst of oppression and disappointment of their choices, and we feel their weight of centuries and decades and years of longing, of hoping, of waiting.
Until one day, in Bethlehem, a baby was born of a virgin and everything changed. The long-awaited, promised Savior had arrived, just as God said He would. All the waiting. All the tears. All the groans. Now infused with hope because of the giggles of a middle eastern infant.
But God’s people are still waiting. Waiting on Jesus’ second advent. When He will “make all things new,” (Revelation 21:5) just as He said He will. So the Advent season is beckoning us to lean into the weight of waiting. To let our groans and tears and hopes and fears anticipate His arrival.
This is the message of Christmas. Looking back on the fulfillment of His promises in the past, we anticipate the fulfillment of His promises in the future. So, we wait. For something amazing.