It’s Advent again. This is the time, leading up to Christmas, when we reflect upon the thousand storylines of prophecy through the centuries that moved in solemn procession toward that One climactic event; the incarnation, the birth of Jesus. We reflect upon the convergence of those storylines culminating in this one Messianic babe. Every sacrifice, from Abel’s altar to the last Passover lamb before the Passion, paved the Messiah’s path.
Often, during Advent we use this time to reflect upon what it is that we are waiting for. We ask ourselves, “What are we waiting for?” and, more specifically, “What are we waiting for God to do for us?”
This Advent I’d like to challenge us to think differently on this topic and to flip this question on its head. This Advent, let us consider, “What is God waiting for US to do?”
When I thought about this question, here is what came to me. First, it was the notion that God wants me to slow down and meditate on the spiritual riches and treasure that I have living inside of me right now. Because of the Christ event, I now have the Spirit of Jesus in me – a mystical union of spirits that ought to affect the way I live. Increasing my consciousness of that incredible gift, I can become more effective to God. I can be increasingly used in God’s unfolding plan to restore the world. It is easy to rush through my days forgetting this invaluable spiritual gift that we now have – the Spirit of the living God living within us. A mystical co-mingling of the Creator-Redeemer-God with our very spirits and lives. These verses come to mind…
“For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” – Col 1:27, NLT, Or in another translation, “ Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory.”
“You know that YOU ARE God’s sanctuary and that God’s Spirit lives IN YOU, don’t you? (1 Cor 3:16) …And in him YOU too are being built together to become a dwelling IN which God lives by his Spirit.” – Eph 2:22
But it was not just a personal idea, as if to keep the gift of God’s indwelling presence to myself. God is also within us, together, communally, in the plural ‘you’. Being passed between us, as it were. So it is also a vision inspiring action, and interaction with others. That because of this gift of God’s spirit is in us, we are not waiting for God so much as God is waiting for us. We have all we need so we can go forth confidently and do the good that God wants us to do. We can live in such a way as to utilizes this power to usher in a better world. We can work together with God to channel God’s healing presence into the world.
It is this idea that God is waiting for US. He’s waiting for us to realize so much about Him and how much we have of Him and His presence and power right now. So much that we can grab onto the reality of who He is and go out and bless people around us. We can open and let Him flow through us. And by doing so, we can improve our world.
His disciples said to him, “When will the Kingdom come?” Jesus said, “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father IS spread out upon the earth, and people do not SEE it.” – Gospel of Thomas, 113
It is the challenge of Jesus to us all: Do you see the Kingdom around you? We ARE the Kingdom. Here and now! We are the people He put here to build each other up day by day. We, the Kingdom, can dry each other’s tears. We can turn our words of weaponry into harvests of hope. We are the ones God has empowered to bring relevant aspects of the good news to the hearts and lives around us, with or without even speaking a word. We do this by being present, connecting, engaging and moving toward the daily opportunities we are given to show mercy, empathy and compassion to the hearts of the people in our lives. Sometimes this is an emotional leap or a relational risk. To weep with those who are weeping and to rejoice with those who are experiencing joy.
We are the ones who can make those around us feel not alone in their journey through the ups and downs of this life. By being present and authentic bearers of the Spirit. It is this idea that we are not waiting for God to act alone to heal the world, but that WE ARE God’s plan for healing the world! We are a means of grace covering the globe; the very hands and feet of Jesus.
This year, let’s grab onto God’s Spirit inside of us and all around us, and let God’s shalom flow through us like a current of electricity lighting up the dark hour of a friend or stranger, like the Christmas lights that light up the night. Let’s radiate the incarnate light that is already breaking in through us into the lives in which we reside this advent season.
I wrote a poem that gets at what I mean.
We Can Be the Change God Is Waiting For: An Advent Poem
In the encouragement of a friend,
The voice of an angel.
In the embrace a father,
Shelter from a storm.
In the provision of a mother,
The calming of our fears.
In the presence of a sister,
Comfort, even in silence.
In the empathetic ear of a brother,
In the wisdom of a teacher,
Riches, pressed down, shaken together, running over.
In the courage of a leader,
Justice raining down.
In the love of a grand-parent,
Hope springing up.
In our Spirit-filled presence with each other,
We dry each others tears.
Resting our soul in God as we live each day,
We usher in restoration for the world.
by Riley O’Brien Powell