I heard a new, to me, phrase this week “waiting forward”. I quite like it. It expresses a ‘foot forward’ anticipatory waiting which includes activity designed to prepare for the awaited outcome. Waiting in this way does not descend into idleness and fruitlessness.
When I was a kid we would post a lookout when the teacher left the room. The idea was that when she returned we could all be ‘caught’ studiously doing our assigned tasks. Later it became “Look busy! The boss is coming.” These are examples of fruitless waiting!
Other times when promises were slow in being fulfilled, I would get caught up in other things and neglect waiting or anticipating the promise. When the promise came I was not ready, and the moment was lost.
Simeon was an example of ‘waiting forward’. He had been promised that he would see the Messiah. He was now an old man. He had waited a long time, but he had not wasted his time. He had a well-earned reputation as a righteous follower. When he got the inner nudge to go to the Temple he was in a receptive state to both notice and heed that nudge. He had been waiting a long time, but he was waiting forward. He was anticipating and he was receptive, and he held his Messiah in his arms. He knew God was faithful and he did his best to model that faithfulness.
The Season of Advent reminds us that we are waiting. It should prompt us to examine whether we are waiting forward. Are we occupied with being ready and as much as lies within our power to be preparing the World for his coming? Are we waiting forward? Anyone can idly wait, but followers of Jesus are called to much more than that. Anyone can light a candle and make a wish but to truly follow Him is to actively occupy until he comes!
As I write I am really saddened with news from Shamattawa Mb. I learned today that this tiny community has 167 active cases of covid and a 68% positivity rate! Many years ago, I began my ministry in this isolated community. Some of the Elders would be people from my youth group. In a community like this where almost everyone is related, and multi-generations live under one roof this virus is insidious! I hope we can wait forward for a vaccine, and I pray for a distribution to communities like this that so desperately need it.
On a happier note, we are looking forward to our Christmas celebration Banquet in a Box. We have decided to expand the idea to include an outreach as well. The church I belong to participates in a weekly Saturday supper. During Covid the numbers coming for meals (now take-out meals) have doubled. We will be giving each person that comes on December 19th an additional Banquet in a Box to merry up their Christmas Season. If you wish to help us by purchasing a box to give away that day contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange it.
In the meantime, let’s wait forward.