waiting on God

The advent season has begun and there was discussion on Sunday about waiting. Not surprisingly, this focused on the idea of waiting for Jesus' return. And natural parallels were made between this (Christian) waiting and the Jewish waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Waiting for God to set things right, waiting for suffering to end, waiting for God's promise to be fulfilled. But this raises an uncomfortable question. Is our waiting the same? Don't we say the Messiah has already come? But we're still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled? The Christian explanation usually says something cryptic about "already and not yet" or "Jesus is already with us, but... It's hard to explain." And for all practical purposes our waiting for Jesus' coming is no different from the waiting of the expectant Jewish believer. Which isn't so bad; it's not a futile waiting. Just far less than Jesus offered to us. When Jesus began preaching, he proclaimed, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand!" (Mk 1.15) The waiting for the Messiah—God With Us— is over; he is with us always, to the end of the age. We are invited into his promised "kingdom of God." For those who follow him, eternal life begins now. Waiting on God thus takes on a whole new meaning. Not waiting for God to reveal himself, not waiting for our exile to end, not waiting for the Good to prevail. All this has been (and can be for us) fulfilled already. We can now live the life Jesus lived and promised for his followers. Our waiting on God now takes on an immediate sense, the experience of God present and our utter reliance him, continually looking to our Father moment by moment for protection, provision, guidance, motivation, answers, justice, peace. Not the waiting of absence, but the waiting of intimate dependence.