From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)
We have all said at one point or another, “If I just knew what would happen in the future, I would be fine!” We tend to worry about the things of which we feel uncertain. For some of us it’s whether or not we will ever meet the right person. Some of us wonder if we will ever find a suitable job or be able to afford a home. It is different for everyone. But for most of us, even if we did get a favorable and time-sensitive response to our pleas or requests, we would still find something to worry about, questioning, “What if it isn’t true?”
To some extent, doubt, worry, and anxiety in the face of uncertainty are human nature. Zechariah has a long nine months ahead of him. Using discipline and prayer, Zechariah can cultivate non-anxious waiting. We can all attest to the difficulty of waiting. And the reality is that most of us have to wait without any message-declaring angels showing up at our doorsteps. So how do we do it? How do we cultivate a posture of faithful living with unmet desires? No easy answer exists. But there are clear steps we can take towards learning to dwell in God’s strength and encouraging one another.
Inherent in the concept of liturgy is that we habituate ourselves in practices that shape our lives toward God. Every Sunday we enact a liturgy specific to our faith tradition. Each part of the liturgy reminds us of some truth about what it means to be in covenant with God. The hymns we sing, our words of confession, our offerings, our prayers, and several other liturgical aspects reveal aspects of God’s covenant relationship to us as individuals and as a community. We can learn to wait faithfully and to dwell in God’s strength by creating daily liturgies that shape our lives around God.
Beginning a practice of praying regularly with someone can be a helpful way to remind each other of God’s goodness and steadfastness. So often we get lost in our own perspectives. As a community of believers we can encourage one another by remembering God’s faithfulness in the past and God’s promises for the future. Another practice we can work into our daily liturgies is the discipline of thanksgiving. Our intentional recognition of what we are grateful for shifts our minds to acknowledging our dependence on God and on one another. The God who meets our needs does not decide to stop one day. Like Zechariah, we can practice attending to the rituals of our faith and trusting God to meet us as we do the things disciples are called to do: serving, praising, praying, and more.
For those of us who sense we are waiting on a specific word from God, we do well to pray for God’s help in waiting until God’s word comes to pass. As we learn the challenging discipline of patient waiting, we open ourselves to being formed in richer and deeper ways that enable us to receive God’s gifts more fully.
God, help us cultivate daily liturgies of life that remind us that everything we do is an opportunity for worshiping you and being formed more and more into your likeness. Amen.