Many of you will know the saying “All things come to him who waits” but I wonder if you know who said it ….AND….what the final part of that saying is. Woodrow Wilson, who was president of the USA at the end of World War 1 gave us this saying. He learned about waiting as he campaigned for the USA to ratify the treaty of Versailles and become a founder member of the League of Nations - forerunner to the United Nations and Woodrow’s own concept for maintaining peace amongst the nations. The final part of his saying is: “provided he knows what he is waiting for”.
Woodrow knew what he was waiting for, but it didn’t come as he anticipated. The USA didn’t join the League. Sadly for Woodrow, despite knowing for what he was waiting, it didn’t happen - at least not quite as he expected. A stroke and the ensuing disability reduced his power and influence and the USA did not join the League. We are about to embark on the most important season of waiting in the Christian year - Advent. But, do we know what we are waiting for? And will it come?
Waiting is a peculiar and highly variable process. It may simply require patience, for example, when waiting for a bus - though even a simple act like that may entail frustration or concern especially if time is short. On other occasions waiting may be filled with anxiety - such as when waiting for the response to an interview or exam results. It may even be filled with dread, as it is for many people across the world as they wait for the next bombs to explode. On the other hand, it may be filled with excitement such as fills the hearts and minds of many children as they await the much-expected visit of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!
Waiting is often a mix of all these feelings and never more so than when waiting for the birth of a baby. Advent is a time when, amongst other events, we recall the anticipation in Mary’s heart as she awaited the birth of her baby; it’s a time of waiting to welcome Jesus Christ into our hearts when we celebrate his birth at Christmas. Waiting at such times as this requires preparation as well as patience and peace.
So, how did Mary prepare? We’re not sure of all that she did, but we do know that she spent time with Elizabeth – an older wiser cousin (also the mother of John the Baptist); read Luke 1: 39 - 56. And, as we wait, how do we prepare for the celebration of Christmas? By extending the time we spend with God in prayer, reading
discussions and worship. Across our United Benefice we have several special services and events that can help us with this; please see the information in our magazines and on our websites.
The Christian writer John Ortberg wrote “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.” Whilst we wait for the fulfilment of God’s kingdom, we become a part of that Kingdom – that is the purpose of our waiting season - that is what we are waiting for.
Philip, Trish and Patricia wish all of you patient and prayerful waiting followed by a wonderful Christmas celebration and we look forward to welcoming you to the services that will be held across the United Benefice in the forthcoming weeks.