"The season of Advent, more than any other time of the church year, invites us to embrace the spiritual discipline of waiting. The season of Advent will not be rushed. The Advent carols must be sung, the Advent candles must be lighted week by week, and the doors of the Advent Calendar must be opened day by day. Christmas will finally come when all the expectant Scriptures have been read and when the baby has finally been born."

That's a beautiful description of the first season of the Christian church year from Holly W. Whitcomb, a United Church of Christ minister, in her book Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting She sees this four-week period that ends on Christmas Eve as going against the cultural grain of the times; we don't like to wait for anything; we expect instant gratification, even in our spiritual lives. But God is not to be rushed. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin advised, we need to "trust in the slow work of God." That is what the Israelites did during their long sojourn in the desert and what Christians do during Advent.

To Name These Days:

Book Excerpts

Read an excerpt from The Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting. They are patience, loss of control, living in the present, compassion, gratitude, humility, and trust in God. Holly Whitcomb recalls preaching during Advent while she was pregnant and awaiting a child. "Waiting," she says, "is an important guest to honor in the guest house of our humanity."

Personal Explorations

Take on one or more of these spiritual assignments to signal your willingness to wait during Advent.

  • Let God sit in the director's chair.
  • Give up your fantasy timetables and go with the flow.
  • Do not try to push the river; all will happen in God's time.
  • Let go of any negative /uploads/features/images you carry around about waiting.
  • Have faith that all good things come to those who wait patiently.
  • Grow through periods of waiting that entail darkness and dread.
  • Work to reduce your anger and frustration about waiting.
  • Always be a person animated by hope.
  • Take time during periods of waiting to count your blessings.