When is the last time you truly felt that God was present with you?
God with us,
Where are you now?
Our God with us,
Be here somehow
This is the chorus to Jason Morant’s contribution to the Liturgists’ Advent album, A Light, and every year when I listen to it I am reminded of this feeling to which I am intimately familiar. I know I am not the only one who has felt God’s profound distance, reaching out in prayer or pleading and receiving nothing but silence in return. No matter what I did, God felt far from my grasp. Perhaps you’ve felt that too.
Advent is a season of waiting. Have you noticed that as a culture, we tend to skip over this waiting and go straight to Christmas? And honestly, why wouldn’t we? Christmas is where the good stuff is: food, family, shiny new presents.
We spend enough time waiting for this most delightful of days to arrive, so why should we do even more?
I find myself wondering what it means to wait, not for the arrival of Christmas Day but for the birth of Christ on Earth. On the one hand, Christ has already been born; He has also died and risen again. On the other hand, what do I make of this silence I receive in return for my attempts
to cry out to God? When will Christ’s consistent presence be born into my life? How much more waiting can I bear?
Perhaps that consistent presence will never come, and perhaps the truth is that faith is in the waiting. We wait in hope and get let down and then pick up hope again, and sometimes our waiting is satisfied by the brightness and beauty of God Herself touching our hearts and making
Herself known. We keep watch not knowing when She will come, but it is in the practice of watching and waiting that we learn what the stuff of faith really is.
If you, like me, have a hard time hearing God when you need Her assurance most, then let this Advent be for us a lesson in waiting well. Let us prepare our hearts however we can to be able to receive the Divine when She makes herself known and let us be kind to ourselves on the days when the table is set and the lamps are lit and yet no one comes. Most of all, let us seek the ways in which we can be bearers of God in our own time and culture, birthing Christ through our actions of mercy and justice toward our neighbors.