"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”
– Psalm 130:5-6
Several years ago, my pastor introduced a simple yet powerful symbol to our morning worship services. At the close of each service he asks us to put out our hands facing upwards and he says these simple words, "Sisters and brothers, receive God’s blessing”, and with raised hands he blesses us. Each week the significance and meaningfulness of this practice continues to grow in me and I’ve come to love that closing portion of our service.
There’s something powerful about standing with hands outstretched. Certainly in the context of a blessing it conveys a receptivity, an openness to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In other contexts, it can demonstrate gratitude or praise and in others it can demonstrate pleading or desperation. But open hands can also demonstrate surrender or submission. Not the forced surrender conveyed by hands raised, but a quiet and patient submission; a willingness and trust to be still and wait.
As we enter into the season of Advent, once again we are reminded of the promise of the coming Saviour. Our waiting mirrors that of those who anticipated Christ’s first coming 2000 year ago as we anticipate his final return when he will make all things new. We look around at our broken world, and as a community, we wait and long for a Saviour.
For the woman and her children who are forcibly and violently kicked off their land . We wait and long.
We wait and long.
But waiting need not be a passive activity nor a place of hopelessness.
We work faithfully as we wait; to bring rescue, to bring hope, to bring restoration, to bring a glimpse of the coming Christ to our broken world, knowing that our work is not done in vain.
And we wait with hope; knowing that God hears the cries of the oppressed and the intercession of his people. But more than that, he is Emmanuel, God with us; that he is present with those who are suffering and that he shares in our waiting and longing.
And so, this Advent season we invite you to actively pray and wait with us.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
Join us in waiting and praying this Advent season. The prayer of Waiting and Longing is a great resource created by theologian Walter Brueggemann from his book "Prayers for a Privileged People". We've provided you with a free pdf copy to guide you in your times of prayer and reflection.
Free download here:
This blog post is the introduction to a four-part series on the Advent season. Check back weekly for upcoming posts.