Monday, December 15, 2008

Pray while you wait

Advent could be summed up as a season of waiting. But the only waiting I really run into during the month of December is waiting in lines.. so what is the spirit of Advent? What does it mean to wait for Christmas? My awareness of the many types of waiting deepened while I was a hospital Chaplain and one of my “regular rounds” were the waiting rooms.

During rounds, I'd introduce myself to people waiting… and inquire about their wait.. and ask if maybe they'd like to pray while they waited.

There were all sorts of responses to my offer. Some refused my offer assuming that I wouldn’t pray with a Catholic, or a Jew, or a Muslim. But since I'll pray with anyone, no matter their faith.

One particular guy said he didn’t believe in God and so he didn’t see the need for prayer.. But when I offered to pray to God on his behalf, he appreciated that. I never met anyone who objected to me praying for them.

I discovered that time in waiting rooms isn’t marked by minutes and hours - but rather it is marked by cups of coffee, the number of exits and entrances of others.. the conversations that get going across the aisles regarding something that happens on TV.. or something that is announced across a loudspeaker.
Time also gets marked by worries, unanswerable questions… and a strange punchi-ness that comes when tension turns to laughter. .
The advent season can be like a waiting room.. siting with others, yet strangely alone. None of us wait alike. Some of us are tapping our fingers anxiously, while others are tapping along to the Christmas music playing across the loudspeaker.

Looking around, I see some people are caught up in the excitement of Christmas, while others are overwhelmed by it. Personally, I fluctuate between a bit of each.

Maybe that is why the church chooses to mark time in Advent with candles..

just a simple, single, light slowly brought into darkness.

The glow can calm our anxious spirits.. and the simple image of four candles might just keep us from feeling frenzied.


Anonymous said...

You have the magical way of saying it best. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

Anonymous said...

i find it amazing how a person can take any great sermon and use it for what is going on in their life.
that is what happened to me with pray while you wait. and it was not about a waiting room. thank you for such God inspired words.