We Wait And Are Renewed

Lynne Therese Elwinger, O.C.D.

Advent is with us once again, with all of its own special themes and moods for our prayer and our lives. Each year, I am interested to see what particular aspect of the season’s possibilities will surface as the most persistent highlight of my personal prayer. It takes some firm commitment, especially at this busy time of year, to slow down enough to be available to the many special graces that Advent brings to us. It is no surprise to me that this year, as in many other years, the theme of waiting is at the top of my list. But the emphasis is a little different this year, perhaps because of the chaotic and troubled year we have all experienced in 2009.

They That Wait Upon The Lord

In my recent prayer times, an old chorus that we used to sing at church camps and other gatherings came rushing to mind – complete with all the words and the music as well. I will share with you the words and I guess you’ll have to imagine a tune to go with them. The words are as follows:

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as the eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait. (after Isaiah 40:31)

For many years this was one of my favorite Scripture-based refrains, but I hadn’t thought of it for quite a while now. What attracted my attention, when it suddenly reappeared this year, was the thought that the act of waiting on God promises to renew our strength, and to give us what we need to keep on walking the path. We’re also told that we will even be able to do some serious flying! That’s pretty amazing when you think about it….

Those Who Waited For the Mesiah

I have found myself thinking about the many faces of this waiting – waiting for, waiting upon, and just plain waiting. Each has its own particular flavor. One idea is that in the waiting we become one with those of old who waited for the Messiah to appear on earth. They waited in hope, but also in the darkness of their own troubled and chaotic time. Not so different from us, they longed to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Another form of Advent waiting is the one I usually think of first. This is the quiet waiting, surrounded by the Presence of the Spirit, to hear whatever message God wants to bring to me this year. Surrendering all the need to do this or that or to make things happen on our own, can be a very powerful opening of our hearts to the work God wants to do in us. As this becomes a focus, we can begin to see and hear little messages in the events of our everyday lives that we might have missed altogether when we were so busy holding everything together day after day. Glimpses of the glory of God are everywhere, when we have the eyes to see them. There is so much good in the world!

Waiting on God

To “wait upon the Lord” can also mean to serve God, doing our own little but essential part in manifesting the love and joy and hope and comfort of God’s promise right where we live and work. Especially right now, this can be so encouraging to those around us who are struggling with hard times in their lives.

Waiting on God in these different ways does renew our strength and refresh our spirits. As we prepare once again to celebrate the Divine One in our midst, God-with-us, Emmanuel, may our eyes and hearts be wide open to welcome the Christ child when Christmas comes to us. And may the year ahead find us walking in our renewed, unwearied strength, and occasionally using our wings!

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