One of the books I've enjoyed reading in years past is "Waiting in Joyful Hope" by Robert Morneau. (by the way, he is an amazing author-I highly recommend reading his other books! Note: the link provided is not for the current Advent year.) It's a daily meditation book and companion to the daily Mass readings throughout Advent. The introduction of the book describes Advent as a three-fold type of waiting: past waiting, present waiting and future waiting. I found it really valuable to reflect on these "layers" of waiting to deepen my understanding of this beautiful season.
The first type of waiting during Advent, past waiting, is when we call to mind Isreal's wait for Christ's coming. Throughout the Old Testament we see the struggle, despair, triumphs and failures the Isrealites experienced as they awaited the coming of Christ. Thinking about their thirst for God makes me so truly thankful to not have to wait for Christ as they did. Sometimes it's easy to grow a bit complacent in our faith, taking the gift of Jesus for granted. But when we remember all of those who longed to know our Lord in years past, our gratitude awakens. Reflecting on the past helps make us more thankful for our present.
The second type of waiting during Advent is present waiting. Each day of our lives we wait for the Lord to come more deeply into our hearts and minds as we walk in faith. In this present waiting we hope to understand Him a bit better and become more like Him. With the dawn of each day is a new opportunity to know Christ more deeply, to love Him more and to serve Him better.
The third type of Advent waiting is future waiting. We wait for Jesus' coming in His fullest glory at the end of time. We wait for a more perfect understanding of God--one that can only occur in the distant future. This type of waiting is difficult since we yearn for such a relationship now, yet we must wait. But it's this incompleteness we experience that keeps us coming back to Christ whenever we go astray. In the wanting and waiting we grow closer to Him despite the earthly separation we endure. In this respect, future waiting is the most important, for it drives us to become more like Him each day.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of our Savior this Advent, it's my hope and prayer that Jesus will be reflected a bit more in our hearts and actions--that this joyful waiting might ignite a spark of God in our lives, renewing our hope in Him. As you light the candles on your Advent wreath, tick off the days on your calendar and prepare gifts to share, I hope each day brings you just a little bit closer to the light, joy and peace of Christ. In this season of hustle and bustle I encourage you to set aside some time to be still with God. Take some time to quiet your soul and let God enter. Give yourself the spiritual food you crave so that when Christmas arrives, you may truly rejoice and sing at the wonder of this miracle birth.