One of my favorite Advent songs is the Taizé song, Wait for the Lord, from the ecumenical Taizé community in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is a short, meditative call to wait drawn from Psalm 27:14:
Wait for the Lord,
whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord:
keep watch, take heart!
As a worship leader, I once suggested this as a response song for the congregation to sing after the lighting of the Advent wreath each Sunday in Advent. I got some push back. Some of my fellow worship leaders thought the minor key sounded too sad. They wanted more celebration, having mentally already moved on to Christmas, and anyway who wants to be sad in church?
Beyond our inability to make space for lament in contemporary worship, the song presents another difficulty. We are exhorted to wait for the Lord whose day is near. Near? Really? Because if you look at the state of things in the world, the coming of the King still seems a far way off. It seems like everywhere you look you find deceit, division, abuse and assault. We cry come Lord Jesus but live through days where our rich people are violent; and all the people are liars (Micah 6:12). There doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight.
Do you believe Jesus is coming back and when he does he will set the world to rights? How we answer this question will determine how well we keep watch and wait.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” If waiting for Jesus is like waiting for Godot—a fruitless exercise with no hope on the horizon—then to hold out hope is to torture our souls. If we believe Jesus will come and fulfill our deepest longings than we can bear up under almost anything. Delayed gratification only works if the awaited One proves true.
But do we have the mental space and spiritual imagination to believe in the promised One? Too often, we settle for lesser goods, our hopeful imagination only takes us as far as what presents are under the Christmas tree. Our commodified Christmases, invariably disappoint. The sweater unravels, the toys break, our iPhone overheats. We are haunted by ghosts of Christmas past: petty disappointments, bruised feelings and broken relationships. Do we dare hope another world is possible? Can we yet hope
Wait for the Lord, his day is near. Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart.