Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent: Bonhoeffer on Waiting

Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise, rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands.

The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed with dazzling clarity.

Who has not felt the anxieties of waiting for the declaration of friendship or love? The greatest, the deepest, the most tender experiences in all the world demand patient waiting. This waiting is not in emotional turmoil, but gently growing, like the emergence of spring, like God's laws,* like the germinating of a seed.

Not all can wait--certainly not those who are satisfied, contented, and feel that they live in the best of all possible worlds! Those who learn to wait are uneasy about their way of life, but yet have seen a vision of greatness in the world of the future and are patiently expecting its fulfillment. The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!

In a few weeks we shall hear that cry of triumph. . . . But, not so quick! It is still in the distance. It calls us to learn to wait and to wait aright.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from a sermon delivered in Barcelona on Dec. 2, 1928.
Text: Revelation 3:20
*Presumably Bonhoeffer means the laws that govern the natural order.


Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Such beautiful and encouraging words Drew - thank you for posting them. In fact, they were so encouraging, I posted so that I could put a link to your blog up.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Drew. It's always good to read from Bonhoeffer, and usually end up pondering.