To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. – Henri J. M. Nouwen
I was privileged to be at Brescia University College tonight for an event they called Lessons of Love and Carols of Praise. The motto at Brescia nowadays is Brescia Bold. Tonight we saw some Brescia Bold! The Director of Campus Ministry at Brescia invited me to tonight’s event. She said it would be a good night and that the choir was working hard in preparation. I am pleased to report that their preparation paid off. The Brescia Choir did a splendid job of highlighting the touchstones of the Season of Advent while singing the praise filled songs of Christmas.
Perhaps one most striking moment for me was when the choir sang a Taizé piece entitled ‘Wait for the Lord’ from the cloister outside the chapel. As we sat in the beauty of chapel, surrounded by tasteful decorations befitting the season, the angelic voices of young women began singing softly; ‘Wait for the Lord whose day is near. Wait for the Lord, be strong. Take heart.’ It was deeply moving. The soft and loving sounds of caring Christian voices that were reminding me to ‘wait for Lord,’ was a word from the Creator who needed me to be reminded of the real hope of the Advent message.
The Christian people assume the radical stance that Nouwen wrote about. We assume the stance that God is at work and that despite the brokenness of the moment, there is a great sense that there will be something new. There will be for us and for our world something that is ‘beyond our imagination.’ So whatever darkness we face today, Advent looks that despair square in the eyes and cries “HOPE!” Sometimes that cry of hope is delivered in the splendid voices of an all-women choir in the stillness of a small chapel. “Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart.” Words I needed to hear. It is hard to have patience sometimes. Very hard, when we feel that our current climate is not what it should be. If things seem dark, we want light – NOW! If we are in pain, we want relief – NOW! If we are confused, we want clarity – NOW! If we feel lonely, we want embrace – NOW! If we feel judged, we want vengeance – NOW! If we feel oppressed, we want justice – NOW! You get the picture!
Perhaps we are hardest when it comes to how we judge ourselves. We often come to a place of realizing that we are not doing as much as we feel we should be doing. We often can feel that we are not measuring up to the standard that others have set for us or, for that matter, which we have set for ourselves. This lack of patience with ourselves leads too often to self-destructive behaviour. The harmony of voice tonight singing to me and to the church to ‘be strong and take heart,’ serves as a reminder that each day is a new opportunity to seize strength and to seize the possibilities that lie ahead.
The promise of the prophet Isaih as read at this Liturgy rings true. The time will be when waiting, suffering, and injustice will be no more. We long for and work toward the day when we can say that Lion and Lamb will lie down together.
Common English Bible (CEB)
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down
with the young goat;
the calf and the young lion
will feed together,
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow and the bear will graze.
Their young will lie down together,
and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
8 A nursing child
will play over the snake’s hole;
toddlers will reach
right over the serpent’s den.
9 They won’t harm or destroy
anywhere on my holy mountain.
The earth will surely be filled
with the knowledge of the LORD,
just as the water covers the sea.
While we make ready for that time we have the courage to be patient with ourselves and our inability. We pray for the grace to accept our gifts as well as our limitations. We strive to be a people who can have the persistence to start every day anew.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them– every day begin the task anew. – Frances de Sales