Today's Scripture: 2 Peter 3:8-10
We Americans hate to wait. I do. So do you. Hence, our love of fast food, microwave ovens, express shipping, high-speed Internet, smart-phones with speed dial, email and text messaging. Hence, our dislike of snail mail, public transportation, the doctor's waiting room, and anything else that slows our pace or causes us to wait.
The longest week of my life was one during which we awaited lab results that would tell us the probability of a childhood leukemia diagnosis given an inexplicably high white blood cell count in our 2-year-old daughter. When we are parents or patients, waiting stretches our patience while we wish to know or to have.
At least 112,000 Americans languish on the organ transplant "wait list" maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing. Too many die waiting. Of course we hate to wait. It can be deadly.
Or else it might be an opportunity for faith.
Waiting is hard because it tries our faith. We find ourselves in the liminality of what was and what might be, a time of transitional ambiguity. To wait is to be uncertain, no longer in control, at the whim of another or an Other.
In the "wait" is our realization of temporality, of being bound by space and time, unable to transcend our own finitude as mere mortals despite an unrelenting desire to be our own demigod.
Advent is a misnomer. The arrival or "coming" is that culmination we call Christmas. The season preceding is a time of waiting. The Christ will come, but now we wait. The Christ will come again, but now we wait. Have faith, we mortals. And wait. Wait.
Tarris Rosell is professor of pastoral theology for ethics and ministry praxis at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
This 2011 Advent devotion originally appeared in the November 17 issue of Word&Way.