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Post-election Advent Waiting

We are in the season of Advent. As a pastor preached this Sunday, the liturgical church year does not begin with triumph or with victory, but with, of all things—waiting.

We turn back to the beginning of our devotionals ordered by church year; we hear Scriptures read of prophets forthtelling and foretelling of the coming one, the shoot to grow from the stump of Jesse’s tree, the one who will make all things new—and we wait.

We lift the windows of our Advent calendars revealing each new day and we eat a sweet treat; we clasp hands and lift up prayers to the Almighty, praying for Jesus’ return; we sing in filled sanctuaries surrounded by choral voices lifting up glorious songs, and the transcendence brings tears to our eyes at the understanding it must have been something like this when the heavenly host sang, when they told about Jesus’ birth. And we wait.

We hear Scriptures read of the shoot to grow from the stump of Jesse’s tree, the one who will make all things new—and we wait.

We sing from hymnals carols whose words give voice and melody to the longing and long wait that is the Church’s in this time in between Jesus’ resurrection and second coming.

We wait with songs on our lips. We wait with praise to the Almighty who hears the prayers and cries of water protectors at Standing Rock. We wait with prayers of gratitude on our lips for the perseverance of body and mind and will, gratitude for their sacrifice as they put their bodies on the line to protect the water from destruction. With them, we wait.

We wait with the brokenhearted child grieving in a classroom, a scene repeated all across the United States, as he shares his fears that his grandmother, his father, his mother will be deported from the country he was born into—separated from him because they are undocumented—because the era of the new administration has now begun. With him, we wait.

We wait with the young woman sitting stricken—the years of work done to heal the trauma and pain of sexual assault painfully undercut as so many of her country’s voters reward someone who commits and makes light of sexual assault by giving him the highest office in the land. With her, we wait.

We wait with the grieving LGBTQ+ person who fears her body is in even more danger now.

We wait with our Muslim neighbor whose mother asks her to no longer wear the hijab for her safety. With them, we wait.

We wait with difficult prayers for understanding and frustrated friendships now marked starkly by division. We wait.

We wait with divided family dinners and painful Thanksgiving conversations; with broken stares from fathers and protective mothers skillfully changing the subject when disagreement starts to rear its head. With them, we wait.

We wait with difficult prayers for understanding and frustrated friendships now marked starkly by division. We wait.

Oh Lord, it is Advent, and we wait.

We look back and remember how all of Israel waited for the LORD to speak once again. Four hundred years of silence they waited. And then Jesus came. A beautiful, helpless baby with arms a-flailing and gums suckling. We wait with the angels eager to proclaim to the lowly shepherds this good news of great joy, that a King is born—Gloria! We wait with the magi from the east, who waited for years, tracking a luminous star to Bethlehem. We wait with Joseph, bearing witness to the double miracle of this birth—this beautiful boy, both human and divine.

We wait with Mary, who waited nine months, feeling the fulfillment of the angel’s words of promise in her body, changing week by week with this baby in her womb. Mary, who held this precious child in her arms, nursed and nourished him from her own body. Waiting.

November has been a long month for many of us here in the United States.

This waiting is my lament and my hope. I don’t have solutions to offer. I’m running short on easy answers. I don’t know the steps to prescribe to fix relationships skewered by this election season. What I do have to offer is to name the reality that in this season of anticipating Christ’s return, we wait—with longing, with pain, with hope.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet proclaims—Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). The Hebrew word for the verb hope can also be translated as wait. Hoping and waiting are intertwined—waiting hope, hopeful waiting.

That is what I will do, as we wait for Jesus, as we live in this post-election United States, in this post-American-election world. Wait; listen; hope; work; wait; hope; wait. 

Editor's note: Joella is one of our Do Justice columnists. Read what the rest of our columnists are saying on our columnists page

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