I was trying to think about what to write today's advent reflection on and the word patience sprang to mind. Here's why:
Yesterday I was thinking about how amidst the pain and suffering that we see in so many different places around the world that the most apt prayer we could cry is that of "Maranatha - Come, Lord." And yet even as we cry that prayer to God we find ourselves living with an apparent and (to me at least) quite obvious tension: that people have been making "Maranatha" their prayer for the past two thousand years and yet still we wait.
And then I thought about it some more and realised that it isn't just for two thousand years that people have uttered this prayer. In fact I reckon that it is actually ever since the fall - when we went our own way - that this prayer has been cried, even if the wording has changed. Because ever since humanity chose our way as opposed to God's way we have been left with something missing: full and whole relationship with God, the absence of which is seen through pain, suffering, and all that which is so clearly outside of His plan for us.
And then I also thought about the people of Israel: they had the prophecies, they had the promise of Messiah, and they certainly had a keen expectation - and yet He didn't come.
And then Simeon: the patience he had shown in waiting for God to reveal His Christ, only to see Him and yet still have to wait some thirty years (if Simeon even lived that long) before the ministry in which Jesus' Messiah credentials would become obvious.
And now I think about us: because so many of us - Christian and non - long for a day when pain and suffering will be done, when people will lay down their weapons, and when creation will be at peace with itself. Yet those of us who live as Christ-followers believe that it will only be at His return that these things will happen; although that is not to say that we can't catch glimpses of them now as we work for the Kingdom, seeking to be reflectors and bringers of God's light.
But until that day - a day known only to Him, and like the faithful throughout history, we need patience.
As we move through this advent time and prepare to celebrate Jesus' first coming may the Holy Spirit give us the patience we need as we long for His second.
Give me patience, Lord,
to listen to your voice,
to wait for you to act.
Save me from impatience
and from wanting to run ahead
of your timing for us.