In the midst of the Advent season, it is hard not to be struck by the impossibly grand scope of the incarnation. Here, Krista Law (MACP ‘12, MACS ‘13) wonders about how we respond to promises that are so far beyond our grasp. Do we laugh and shrug it off, or do we choose to believe against all odds?

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Two women, born centuries apart, each received a promise: they would both miraculously give birth to a son. One cynically doubted, the other naively believed. One narrative is filled with manipulation and deception, the other with curiosity and vulnerability. When the promise was indeed fulfilled, one laughed, and the other sang. Yet, no attitude, action, or affect of either woman changed the vowed outcome. Neither woman was more cursed or more blessed with anything other than what was promised. How, then, does this inform the posture of how we wait and prepare for what is to come?

We have also received a promise: a child is born to us. A son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice for all eternity. Do we cynically doubt and sneer at the probability of this promise? Or do we find refuge and much needed relief in being able to trust the generous offering of wisdom, power, provision, and protection? Do we find the assurance of peace laughable, or do we burst into song ushering forth its presence? And if our involvement one way or another won’t change the outcome of this promise, then does it matter at all how we wait?

Do we find the assurance of peace laughable?

Perhaps we have two choices: we may bless or we may curse. But being indifferent is not one of those options. Maybe the only thing that matters is that we engage; that we hear the promise and wrestle with our own conclusions. I wonder if the answer is just to get involved, make a decision, pick a side? If the outcome is unchanging no matter how we behave, could it be that the promise is simply an invitation to being?

In order to truly wait, we must be engaged. Otherwise, time is simply passing. Active waiting demands presence and intention; it requires being. What if God’s promises are constant and persistent bids for our participation? To doubt like Sarah, or to believe like Mary. To fight or to surrender. To waiver or to commit. To speak or to remain silent. Perhaps in God’s promises, the great I am is asking for us to be.