There’s a lot of waiting in the story. Zechariah waits nine months in silence for his son, that surprise gift at hope’s end after a married eternity of monthly disappointment. Mary waits, nine months of questions and surrender, of morning sickness and neighborhood gossip and back pain. Simeon and Anna have shaped their whole long lives around waiting for the one they finally hold in their arms.
I remember last year, how I found myself crying three weeks into advent because I thought I had missed it. All I was feeling was emptiness. I remember too the joy of her assurance that I hadn’t missed it at all – that the waiting and longing, the answering “yes” in the not-yet-seeing, the deep knowing of our need for God-with-us is what advent is all about.
Advent is practice for the rest of life, a learning to pay attention, to live with the discomfort of trusting a promise that is becoming but not yet whole, begun but not fully seen.
This waiting season is the echo of creation, the Spirit hovering over chaotic, formless emptiness.
It’s the continuation of the incarnation, the Spirit entering the dark crampedness of Mary’s womb.
It’s the fulfillment of the resurrection, the Spirit breathing new life in the stale air of death’s tomb.
He hovers still, but now over us, enters still, but now into us – again and again and again, shaping, breathing, touching emptiness and chaos into God-shaped life.