The season of waiting

30 November 2020

The Wesley Hospital Pastor Leanne Duncan speaks about the Advent season and the significance of 'waiting' in the year of COVID-19. 


Many people celebrate Advent by lighting the candles of an Advent wreath. One candle for Week 1, two candles for Week 2, and so on. The wreath comprises three purple candles and one rose-coloured, for the joyful Third Week of Advent. They are set in a circle of evergreen leaves, symbolising God’s endless life and love. A fifth candle, a white ‘Christ’ candle, may be placed in the centre to be lit at Christmas. The gradual lighting of the candles over the month leading up to Christmas represents the waiting and increasing light of Christ as his coming draws near.

In 2020, due to COVID-19, waiting has become the new norm for millions of people. Many wait in quarantine.  We wait for the numbers to lower, for a vaccine to be created, and for restrictions to be lifted. Because Advent, the ‘waiting’ time prior to Christmas, is upon us, take a moment to consider the act of waiting…

Advent brings with it examples of happy waiting and anticipation. Open a door on the Advent calendar and find chocolate! Light a candle in the Advent wreath and we are one week closer to Christmas. Make your lists and check them twice as you look forward to giving, receiving, and feasting.

However, much of the waiting we experience, (and especially those in our hospital), is open-ended and uncertain and not in our control. The hardest thing about waiting is not knowing when it’s going to end, or if it’s going to end. Many of our patients wait for healing, or wait for decisions about treatment, without a clear path to resolution. Waiting brings questions without easy answers.

When people enter into this kind of waiting, it changes them (and us!). It changes perspective. Even in the midst of illness, many people find that their appreciation of the positive is sharpened. They begin to trust more in the journey, rather than the now uncertain future. This kind of waiting becomes not simply a coping strategy but a way of life.

The word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’. Advent is often understood as a time of  waiting for Christmas and remembering the story – that Jesus came amongst us as one of us. But it’s more than that. We are waiting for, indeed expecting, God’s unfolding in our life. We are waiting to see the continuing impact of God’s unfolding in our life.

This Advent season, take hope. Maybe ask yourself ‘How can I make the world a place where more people can recognise meaning and purpose, and appreciate what’s important?’ However life unfolds, let us take whatever need we have, whatever good desire we have, whatever hope we have, and entrust it to God’s care.

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