Waiting For Sounds of Silence This Advent Season

12/20/2010 09:16 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sheldon C. Good Writing and working in the areas of faith, politics, poverty, & homelessness

More than 2,000 years ago, something the prophets long predicted finally happened. For generations, the people of Israel waited for their Messiah, their Savior, who would deliver them from evil -- someone they could crown King.

A baby?

Mary and Joseph were equally surprised. Who asked for a child? Oh, what a Savior.

In this season of Advent -- which in Latin means "coming" -- we too wait for the Christ Child. We do not wait in vain, for we know how the story ends. But the people of Israel didn't. Like Mary and Joseph, we prepare for God's glory, and we adjust our lives accordingly. Or do we make Advent adapt to us?

Advent is a time for countdowns -- the last day of school, the last day of the year, the last day of shopping. In the midst of overscheduled lives, do we create space for God's surprises? Mary and Joseph pleaded with the innkeeper to make room for Jesus. Do we?

Rather than overscheduling, we might try underscheduling, creating intentional time for God to burst through. Every hour of every day it seems there's a chore to do, a child to take somewhere, shopping to be done, food to be made. Our chaotic schedules feel amplified during Advent.

But what is God whispering to us this Advent? Intentional pauses for silence and prayer help us listen to that still small voice.

Even silence can distract, since it is rarely silent. At home, there's a knock at the door. At work, the phone rings. At church, someone coughs, a baby cries.

But Isaiah says, "in quietness and in trust shall be your strength" (30:15). If we listen, the Holy Spirit speaks through the sounds of silence. Our hearts are calmed, and we wait for whatever might come, however unexpected.

Jeremiah says God has plans for welfare and not harm, for a future with hope. But it's not for us to know the time and place.

So we wait patiently, in a posture of prayer, for God's divine interruptions to break through, just as they did 2,000 years ago. Christ's peace is coming. Glory to God. Amen.