The Spiritual Posture of Waiting
Beloved in Christ,
A few years ago, my family adopted a greyhound mix, who is sweet enough but can be a real challenge. She is, without question, the most stubborn living thing I have ever encountered. If it wasn't so annoying, I would almost respect the fact that when she wants to do something, she's going to do it no matter what, and when she doesn't want to do something, almost nothing will convince her otherwise.
As I shared with the wonderful congregation at St. Paul's in Owatonna this past Sunday, one of my few success stories with training her is our nightly walks. I've learned that if I simply put the leash on her and walk out the front door, her energy through the whole walk is nearly impossible to contain. But if I make her sit and wait before we walk out the front door, she shows up for the walk with a completely different energy. At first, sitting with the leash on and the door open, her whole body just pulsates with an anxious energy, but after a few minutes, she lets go, softens, and has a totally different energy.
That's the spiritual posture Advent calls us to adopt. As we hear the soaring prophecies of scripture in this season that announce God's promises of a reign marked by love, peace, and justice, my first instinct is to be like my dog at the door, ready to burst out and bring that world into being with all the energy I can muster. But in my energy and my anxiety, it's easy to forget that promises depend on God's power, not mine. My job is not to impose my will on the world, but to get on board with God's will for the world. My job is to give my own energies over to God's power, so that my living and working is animated by the Spirit's power, not my own efforts. Advent is a time when we are called to simply dwell in what is possible, sit with expectation, until our bodies and souls soften enough for God's power to grab us fully, fill us up, and send us out to work, truly and faithfully, for God's glorious will of love to be fully done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Yours in the holy work of watching, waiting, letting go, and receiving the promise,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota