Advent Two: Patiently awaiting an unspeakable joy

When I was young, Christmas was by far my favourite time of year. My blonde curls and eyes of wonder would wake before dawn to behold the perfectly trimmed tree with presents under its branches.

The magic of Christmas was a mix of sweet baby Jesus in a manger and a list of gifts I had scribbled down with my Crayola markers. I was expectant alright, but perhaps not for the right kind of things.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for a first century Jew, patiently waiting for their Messiah. Living under the heavy hand of Roman occupation, knowing unspeakable and gratuitous violence and fear. Feeling the burden of poverty and economic oppression. With every breath slowly drawn in, wondering, could this be the day? The day of liberation?

Yet, in the corner of Caesar's empire, among an oppressed ethnic minority, a baby was born.

A king. Without crown or country. A king who would one day carry the cross and the sin of the world.

Joy unspeakable!

But in the waiting? In the expecting? In the silence of the unknown? In the soul-wrenching, back-breaking, heart-heavy moments before?

Joy intangible.

Amongst our carefully decorated trees, in the hustle and bustle of this season, there is still an expectancy that resides. A groan deep inside, that reaches through the ages and links arms with our first century brothers and sisters.

We now own their longing.
We are now the people of the waiting.
We are now the people who are expecting.

With baited breath, we now sit in the waiting space for the return of our King.

God our Father, cause us to be a people who wait well.
Give us eyes to see, as we stand on tiptoes, peering ahead in anticipation of the coming King.
Open our ears to hear the cry of the babe born in Bethlehem.
And to hear the Spirit whisper “the not yet is worth the wait”
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel.
— Amen.

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Elle Pyke is a founding member and Prayer Lead for Gather Women.