As we enter the Season of Advent, it strikes me that “Hope” and “waiting” are even more a part of our lives in these times. In the dark hours before dawn, I muse about waiting and hope in the season of Advent, I was pondering what is higher on my list – waiting for Christmas or waiting for a coronavirus vaccine, herd immunity and the return to normalcy. If I am honest, it is the latter. It feels like we are living in the time of Noah. We are not just waiting for the flood waters of illness to reside, but we are optimistically waiting now that the vaccines are on the horizon.
But while I am optimistic, am I hopeful? I know I am waiting, but am I hopeful? Are you?
There are days I feel like the psalmist having an internal debate, arguing with myself. “Why are you downcast, my soul; why do you groan within me? Wait for God, for I shall again praise him, my savior and my God.” (Ps 45:6) As the internal debate continues, we look around and the flooded world is all we see, awash in infections and death. We are safer-at-home, as in the days of Noah, confined to our own individual arks. But herein is the blessing of Advent and the coming of Christmas. I am reminded by the psalmist that at my core, while we are optimistic about the vaccine, I hope in the Lord, like all believers before us, like Noah in the days of the Great Flood.
The Book of Genesis (chapters 7 and 8) tells us that it rained for 150 days (7:24), then once the flood crested, the waters began to receded for another 150 days (8:3). Some two plus months later the ark came to rest on a mountain top and 40 days later Noah opened the hatch to look at the world.
8 Then he released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. 9 But the dove could find no place to perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water over all the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark. 10 He waited yet seven days more and again released the dove from the ark. 11 In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! (Genesis 8:8-11)
Perhaps the news of three vaccines waiting for approval and distribution is our modern-day olive leaf. And we wait, the worst yet ahead, but we wait in optimism and Hope. In our waiting, as my Kenyan friends would say, “we are pressurized.” Like Noah, who waited with huge pressure upon him. Like Abraham who waited patiently for the promise of a nation birthed through him. Like Moses who waited for 40 wandering years in the desert or Israel in Exile. Like the Church who has been waiting in expectant anticipation of the return of Christ for 2,000 years. Like all people of faith who pray: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word.” (Ps 130:5)
Advent is a season of Hope and Waiting – and a reminder of the deeper meaning of Hope to which we all are called.
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