The Psalms of Advent, November 29, 2022
An interesting, and perhaps intentional, aspect about the Psalms of Advent is that there are really only seven of them appointed for this season of preparation. When I first considered this blog, I assumed there would be a different psalm every day, but not so, according to the listing in the Revised Common Lectionary. Each psalm is given three to four days, instead of leading to a new one for a new day. I can’t say for sure what the reasoning is behind that decision, but I will speculate that it illustrates two things about Advent preparation: waiting and anticipation.
Waiting is what the majority of us do not like to do. Instant gratification is our siren call. We love drive-through anything and dinners delivered right to our door. Asking us to wait is an insult to our well-beloved and hoarded time. Waiting can be tiring. We can only tread water for so long. Yet waiting is also a spiritual discipline, no matter what faith we follow. When we wait, we realize that everything isn’t about us and that there truly is little over which we have control, other than how we wait. We can wait with patience and trust or with anger and frustration. Waiting with each psalm intentionally slows us down and gives us the time to attend to the words, to the poetry, to the imagery. Waiting keeps us still for a time, and in that stillness we can listen.
What else happens when we wait? We anticipate the outcome of our waiting. Many times, we wait for something good to happen and that anticipation feels exciting; other times, we wait with a sense of foreboding–for a test result, a goodbye, a change of well-planned dreams, a releasing. For the authors of the Book of Psalms, anticipation was almost a constant in their journey of what would come next. A new king? Another oppressor? Land of their own? A messiah? And so they waited, sometimes faithfully, and sometimes not, just like the rest of us.
In this season of darkness and shadows, what are we waiting for and what are we anticipating? Can we observe how we are waiting? The psalmist tell us “To be still and know that God” is God (Psalm 46:10). Can we trust that God is in the waiting, in the watching, in the anticipation with us? These are the questions I ponder this season, and you are invited to ponder with me or share your own. I would honor hearing them.
Blessings ~ Rosemary
5 thoughts on “Tuesday, Advent 1: Waiting and Watching”
Yesterday, the images of escape in this Psalm captured my attention. What hit me this morning, was the “what if’s.”. So many times during times of waiting, it’s the “what if’s” that clamor in the dark to drag my attention from faith to fear. What if this bad thing happens, or this bad thing? Each bad possibility gathering like storm clouds blocking the light and warmth to my spirit. The “what if’s” of this Psalm have a vitally different focus. Instead of peering into the unknown future, dredging up potential bad scenarios, the focus is on how God DID intervene—what if God hadn’t done this? These are faith reinforcing “what if’s.” Each one emphasizes the significance of God’s actions and culminates in God’s saving grace. What if God hadn’t intervened on our behalf? We would have been doomed! BUT GOD DID! The power of fear-feeding “what if’s” falls away when met with the “what if’s” of God’s faithful, loving action.
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I so appreciate that you shared your reflections, Joanna, and I really appreciate your take on the psalm. The “what if’s of God” and our own what if’s are definitely worth reflecting upon.
Oh, would you mind posting this on the FB site? I think so many would benefit from your reflection who don’t follow this blog online.
Thank you for this much needed reflection. Waiting as a “spiritual discipline” is a grateful idea and one that is so hard for me. I observe myself needing to accept those precious moments as a gift to practice a spiritual discipline rather than filling up with action. I will try more to just close my eyes (if needed) to still myself and rest in cherished anchored memories or Divine Presence. Let the One take charge, not me….thank you, dear Rosemary.
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Thanks, Chris. I think all of us can benefit from embracing waiting instead of fighting it or avoiding it. I think of how Joseph and Mary waited, doing the things each day that needed to be done, visiting cousins, traveling for the census, etc, etc, instead of pushing forward to the end.