By Frank Alioto
For the Peninsula Clarion
2020 has clearly impressed on humanity the fragility of life and how difficult it is to wait. Aren’t we all sick of waiting for this pandemic to end? For life to get back to normal like before COVID? For fear and hostility to cease dividing people? There is so much waiting! What do we do? Where do we turn?
A verse has come to my mind over and over again in these dire times: “I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you.” (Psalm 141:1) I have simply summed up this prayer as, “Come quickly my Lord!” Even in declaring this prayer I realize how hard it is to wait and how often my prayers can just be about my personal needs.
The Latin term Advent is all about anticipation and waiting — it literally means “coming or arrival.” Many church traditions provide tangible ways to lean into this waiting time as they explore specific terms assigned to candles on a Christmas Advent wreath. Four Sundays prior to Christmas these candles are lit to remember themes like hope, faith, joy and peace in the waiting process. The Advent narratives in the Bible are packed with characters who were waiting: Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, Anna and the wise men. They were all leaning into patient expectation and were open to the way God showed up in meaningful ways. God gave them all hope, when they could not see the final picture. As they took steps of obedience, God increased their faith as they prepared for Jesus’ arrival. When Jesus did arrive, the wise men were overjoyed and worshipped him. After God answered their prayers Simeon and Anna, they were full of peace and felt complete. Often the waiting time can allow us not just to see how God is with us, but it can prepare us to receive what God has planned for us.
On Christmas day the fifth final candle is lit to celebrate the awaited One. The Christ candle represents purity and victory as the waiting is over and God’s love offers forgiveness and a relationship with him. This gift — available to all — can be received and enjoyed for all those who put faith in Jesus.
If you find yourself in “waiting” and unable to see what is ahead, consider this simple prayer: “Come quickly, my Lord.” Then lean into the promises Jesus declares in the Bible to bring humanity hope, faith, joy, peace and love to whatever you are facing.
Frank Alioto serves as chaplain and pastors at Roots Family Church in Soldotna.