Pausing in Hope
By Louisa Adria
Advent marks the beginning of the new cycle of prayer in the church year. Again we begin to tell the Jesus story, beginning by waiting for his birth. As we welcome this new church year, we also welcome new hymnals. The music of worship, both old and new hymnals, is so central to our celebration of Jesus’ life – and particularly Christmas – that it is folded into this Advent wreath. Some of us are still waiting for new hymnals to be delivered and some of us are waiting for many other things besides.
Advent is a time that welcomes the waiting in our lives, lending itself to inward reflection and contemplation.
It is an acknowledgment that in our lives, there are seasons of waiting, times of expectancy and hope. It is Jesus coming alongside us in our waiting and reminding us that he is the abundant source of hope at all times, and perhaps especially in the waiting.
Sometimes waiting takes a lot longer than we might have imagined. I have folded origami for many years. I have even folded this poinsettia-shaped origami before but this year it took me longer to fold these flowers than I had thought it would. Yet as I folded, I remembered how beautiful the process is. I think that the seasons of waiting in our lives can be challenging. Sometimes we don’t know how long we’ll be waiting, or we don’t really have a clear idea of what we’re waiting for, and it can be frustrating when we have no way of “making” the waiting “go faster.”
During Advent, we symbolize this waiting by gradually lighting four candles for each of the four Sundays of Advent. These lights do not make the waiting go faster; they are beautiful. They shine in the darkness of our waiting. They remind me that, although Advent (and perhaps other Waiting Seasons in our lives) might feel like they take longer than we might have imagined possible, the process is beautiful. There is a Light shining in the darkness (Jn 1:5) and the time in the darkness and the waiting has its own incomprehensible beauty. Perhaps these lights of waiting seem more beautiful and luminous when everything else is dark.
Perhaps in a year where it feels like we have nothing to do but wait and wonder, we can remember that the waiting – the process – is beautiful.
May Christ come alongside us as we wait this Advent. May we sense the Holy Spirit as we wait for the arrival of new hymnals, for the end of a pandemic, and for the celebration of Christ’s birth. May we welcome the beautiful waiting process and turn to Christ’s Light, no matter the time of year.