by Audrey Novak Riley—

There’s an ancient lilttle prayer that some Christians insert into the Lord’s Prayer right before the doxology (which explains that awkward pause whenever an ecumenical group recites the Lord’s Prayer together). There are many variations and translations, as you’d expect for such an ancient text, but one in particular strikes me as a perfect Advent prayer. It ends like this: “…as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

When we’re waiting for something big, something important—like the answer to a life-changing question or prayer—do we wait anxiously, or do we wait in joyful hope? What do we do while we wait?

Think of how the people who heard the prophets proclaim God’s promise of a redeemer waited century after century for that promise to be fulfilled. Think of Mary, waiting for her baby to be born. Think of Jesus’ first followers, waiting for him to restore the kingdom. Think of the next generation of Christians (and the next, and the next), waiting for Jesus’ promised return. Anxious or joyful? How would you wait? What would you do while you waited? What do you do as you wait?

In “The waiting place,” Jordan Miller-Stubbendick (p. 6) ponders the meaning of Advent and resting in God’s promises in times when all we can do is wait.

“When we don’t know what is coming next, we might wait with hope or fear, expectation or joy for God to work with and through and even in spite of us,” she writes. “As God meets us, the waiting time itself can become transformative and holy.”

In “Winter boundaries, winter wonder” (p. 13), Venice R. Williams tells us how she and her garden wait in restful hope for the return of spring and new life.

“My gardens tend to me as much as I tend them,” Williams writes. “We cultivate each other. Come December, not even the business of the holidays and special events are a deep enough salve for what ails me.”

Cara Strickland (p. 30) sees waiting times as times of co-creation, times when God does what God does, and we do what we do.

“When I cook, I am taking what God has made and adding myself as an ingredient,” Strickland writes. “I’ve learned the wonderful thing about co-creation is that there never was any need for me to stress over the recipes on my own. I am not the creator; I partner with the creator.”

And our Advent devotional, “Watch, wait, create,” by contemplative artist Vonda Drees, guides us through a practice of contemplation and co-creation inspired by the prophet Isaiah (p. 20).

She writes, “As co-creators and artists, we wait for and connect creative sparks, kindling the fire of imagination.

That ancient little prayer I mentioned earlier asks God to grant us peace as we wait in joyful hope. That’s what I pray for you and for all of us this Advent: peace and joy and hope. Amen and amen.

Audrey Novak Riley serves Women of the ELCA as director for stewardship in the churchwide office. Before that, she was a member of the magazine’s editorial staff for several years.

This article is from the December 2019 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.