3 Things I’m Sick of Waiting For This Advent

If you are or have been a part of a liturgical church, you know that this is Advent, the 4 week season leading up to Christmas and the season of hopeful waiting for the coming Christ.

If not, you know that this is the season of really annoying Christmas music if public spaces.

Either way. I feel you.

When I think back to the Advents of my youth, I think about candle-light, cookies, and singing “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” ad nauseum. It’s a peaceful, nostalgic, lovely time.

This year I feel differently.

Maybe because this year it feels more obvious what I’m waiting for, and maybe because I’m running out of patience, and maybe because I never should have been patient about that stuff in the first place.

The powerful words that Dr. King (who was pretty radical, lest we forget,) wrote when he was in the Birmingham Jail come to mind: “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience …”

I’m gonna say something kind of wild here: waiting is violence.

Waiting is violence when while we wait, black bodies are killed in the street, Native sacred sites are bulldozed, and Americans of European descent are taught to think that all of this is ok.

So in the spirit of Advent, here are 3 things I’m sick of waiting for.

1.For God to heal the broken-hearted, and bind up our wounds (Psalm 147:3)

I’m going to put myself on this list. I was having a conversation with some fellow racial justice advocates recently, and I said something like “As a white person, I don’t experience racial violence…” and a black friend called me out on it. When systems of racial injustice uses my skin to justify harm to black and brown bodies, that is violence against me. It’s violence against my soul. It’s violence against my ability to be in relationship. It breaks up my heart, breaks up who it was that God made me to be, breaks up who it is that God made US to be.

If we’re going to see a change in the racism that pervades our culture, it is MY heart that needs to be healed, MY wounds that need to be bound up. And yours, too. God has promised to be our healer. I’m ready for that healing to happen, like, yesterday.

2. For the Church to be the Church.

I love church. I love worship in every shape and style, I love singing hymns and I love singing praise music, and I especially love potlucks. Aaaaaand… I’m pretty sure that that’s not where our call from Christ starts and stops. A friend of mine put it this way: we’re not just supposed to go to church. We’re supposed to be the Church.

How ‘bout this little ditty from the book of Revelation, written to a church in a situation not unlike our own?  “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. 3 Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent.” (Rev. 3:1-3)

The point here is that Christianity is a political identity. Revelation wants to make the claim that we can’t worship the ‘lamb who was slain’ by the empire and the empire itself. We’ve got to make a choice. Like, yesterday.

3. For Jesus to come back, already

Most days I’m pretty sure that Jesus is coming back for us, that the kingdom of God is a real thing, that “no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.” (Isaiah 65:9). But SERIOUSLY, Jesus, the weeping and the cries of the distress are pretty intense down here, and we need you to get down here, like, YESTERDAY.

So, yeah.

This advent, I’m lighting my candles and crying into the darkness: HOW LONG, OH LORD? This advent, waiting isn’t lovely or nostalgic; this advent, waiting hurts. And it probably should.

What are you waiting for, this Advent? Is there anything you’re sick of waiting for?

(Props go to Decolonize Lutheranism for inspiration for this post. For more good stuff in this line, check out the hashtag advent devotional #FuckThisShit, or the PG version, #RendTheHeavens.)

4 comments on “3 Things I’m Sick of Waiting For This Advent

  1. Wow, this really resonates with the sermon from Open Door last week, It was titled “What are you waiting for?” the problem with both Tom and I was that we couldn’t think of what we were waiting for. It seemed to us that things were going well, we had what we needed and living in the moment seemed like a good thing. We didn’t need anything, and we weren’t waiting for anything. We couldn’t put a name to that empty place, couldn’t find the thing that needed prayer and felt a little guilty for that. After reading your thoughts though, I see more clearly. I am not waiting for something for ME, but for something for the world and this nation. I am waiting for justice and fairness and rightness to come. Not to me, because I have that and am way too comfortable with those things. But for the others in the nation who don’t have these things and really need them. Now I can really pray and wait and pray and act this advent season,
    thanks,
    Diane Ringdal

    • I’m glad this resonates for you! When I’m honest, it’s a real struggle for me, too, to remember that my well-being is bound up in the well-being of others. Like I wrote, it’s pretty easy for me to say “I don’t experience (insert kind of violence here)” because it’s not obvious how I’m being hurt by the systems we have in place. But I AM being hurt. We’re all hurt, personally, as well as empathetically. It’s good to be able to remind each other.

    • Thanks, Katie! It makes me feel happy when you say nice things about my writing and thinking, because yours is so inspiring to me. Let’s be friends 🙂

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